In 1962, on this day the United States Supreme Court decided on the case of Engel v. Vitale upholding the constitutional right of public schools to compose an official school prayer and require its recitation.
Engel v. VitaleThe case was brought by the families of public school students in New Hyde Park, New York who complained the prayer to "Almighty God" contradicted their religious beliefs. They were supported by groups opposed to the school prayer including rabbinical organizations, Ethical Culture, and Judaic organizations. The prayer in question was: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen".
Justice Hugo Black (pictured) delivered the legal opinion that having codified the communities' right to self-government into the framing of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers would have considered the logic of the plaintiff's appeal to be a stupefying encroachment on traditional American principles. The first amendment prohibits the making of any law "respecting an establishment of religion", impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.