Table of Contents
- A student as Santa Fe High School’s student council chaplain delivers a prayer prior to a varsity football game via the public address system.
- Under the First Amendment Clause, respondents, Mormon, Catholic students, and their mothers filed a law suit challenging this practice.
- Before the case can be argued in a court of law, the petitioner school district (District), adapts a new policy authorizing two student elections to determine the viability of prayers at varsity games and the delivery of such prayers respectively.
- The District challenges the law suit by arguing that the delivered prayer was a private message rather than a public one, hence, no harm was intended to students bearing difference opinions/feelings
- A successful election authorizing such prayers is conducted by the school mandating the District Court to order a modification of the policy permitting only nonsectarian and non-proselytizing prayers.
Is the implementation of a school policy that allows public delivery of prayers at per with the directives of the constitution under the Establishment Clause?
- The government may not coerce anyone to be part of a religion or its practice, or act in a manner that establishes a state religion or religious faith, or tends to do so, id, at 587.
- Schools shall not force on students the difficulty choice of whether to attend these varsity games or risk experiencing a personally offensive religious practice id., at 596. pp. 18—21. (c).
- The Supreme Court, under the Fifth Circuit points out that the modified policy by the District Court does not hold as the permission of student-led and initiated prayers at football games offered by the District’s policy violates the Establishment Clause.
- The delivery of message such as invocation on school property, at a school-sponsored event, using the school’s public system, by a school representative, under the mandate of the faculty, and following a directive by a school policy that inconsiderably encourages public prayer – cannot be characterized as private speech.
- The modified policy endorses perceived and actual endorsement of religion. The student elections are held under the directive of the District’s permission to allow student-delivered invocations. This practice must be consistent and obeying the policy’s goals that permit the solemnization of the event.
- For the reasons explained above, it is irrelevant for the policy and the practice to hold that there is no impermissible government coercion, as the pregame messages are student choices. Under the mechanism of the dual elections and the procedures followed in the delivery of the prayers outline a trend dictated by authority (government).
- The District’s argument that the attendance to an extra-curricular event, as opposed to a graduation ceremony, is voluntary – does not hold. Cheerleaders, band members, and the team members have their attendance mandated, as attendance may contribute to class credit.
- The District’s argument on the respondents facial challenges to the policy being premature strikes no nerve as no invocation has been delivered under the policy.
- The District’s policy enactment of implementing an electoral process that subjects the issue of student-delivered prayers to the majoritarian vote violates the constitution.
- The District as formulated a governmental mechanism that isolates, ignores, and disrespects the discomforts of the minority regarding the practice. The fact that the majority votes from students supporting the practice serve as the final decision alienates the minority.
Based on its inconsideration of the minority, establishment of a dictating government scheme, and the inclusion of public prayers in public school games – the policy and the practice are both invalid as they violate the constitution.