The following cases are related to Engel v. Vitale and focus on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1
Providing bus rides to parochial school students is
The School Board of Iwing Township allowed its buses to
transport children to a Catholic school. The Supreme Court rejected an
Establishment Clause challenge to this practice, and held that the School Board
was merely providing a financial benefit to the children and their parents, and
was in no way promoting religious beliefs that are associated with the parochial
Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S.
School-sponsored Bible reading before class is
A Pennsylvania law required that each school day open
with the Pledge of Allegiance and a reading from the Bible. The law permitted
students to absent themselves from this activity if they found it objectionable.
Citing Engel, the Court held that school-sponsored Bible reading
constituted government endorsement of a particular religion, and thus violated
the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Westside Community Schools v. Mergers, 496 U.S.
Public schools may not prohibit student religious groups from
meeting on school grounds after hours.
Westside School District
prevented a student religious club from meeting on its property after hours,
citing First Amendment concerns. The club argued that the school's action
violated their Free Exercise rights and the federal Equal Access Act. The Equal
Access Act was passed by Congress to ensure that any school receiving federal
funds could not prevent religious and other groups from using school property
after hours. The Supreme Court upheld the Equal Access Act against an
Establishment Clause challenge, saying that "neutrality" and no "hostility" to
religion is all that is required by the First Amendment.
Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe,
530 U.S. 290 (2000)
Students may not use a school's loudspeaker system to
offer student-led, student-initiated prayer.
Before football games,
members of the student body of a Texas high school elected one of their
classmates to address the players and spectators. These addresses were conducted
over the school's loudspeakers and usually involved a prayer. Attendance at
these events was voluntary. Three students sued the school arguing that the
prayers violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A majority of
the Court rejected the school's argument that since the prayer was student
initiated and student led, as opposed to officially sponsored by the school, it
did not violate the First Amendment. The Court held that this action was
school-sponsored prayer because the loudspeakers that the students used for
their invocations were owned by the school.
Zelma v. Simmons Harris, 536 U.S. 639
Certain school voucher programs are constitutional.
Ohio Pilot Scholarship Program allowed certain Ohio families to receive tuition
aid from the state. This would help offset the cost of tuition at private,
including parochial (religiously affiliated) schools. The Supreme Court rejected
First Amendment challenges to the program and stated that such aid does not
violate the Establishment Clause.