I'm currently having an argument with several friends of mine about the constitutionality of the ruling to have the prayer banner removed from Cranston West High School.


The argument is over whether religious displays such as the prayer banner are legal in a public, taxpayer-funded school. I've been doing some research into SCOTUS (that's Supreme Court of the United States, for anyone who doesn't know the acronym) and am wondering if Engel v. Vitale would apply here.


Engel v. Vitale was a 1962 case that determined that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools. The majority opinion in that case was that "state officials may not compose an official state prayer and require that it be recited in the public schools of the State at the beginning of each school day -- even if the prayer is denominationally neutral and pupils who wish to do so may remain silent or be excused from the room while the prayer is being recited."

I'm not as well-acquainted with the legalities concerning the Cranston case, or with 1st Amendment law. Can anyone comment on this?

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I just googled "scotus public school prayer" and found leads to wikipedia info and court cases.

That's what I did as well. Read a number of opinions written by Black but am still trying to make some sense of what it means overall. I'm also curious what the trial judge was thinking when they threw out the Cranston case, and what precedence came into play...

the supreme just upheld a small town's right (I think it was Conn) to open town meetings with prayer.  In the $ - 3 decision the Chief justice referred to what he called, "common practice" in early America to open public meetings, even some Congressional ones with prayer.  He completely ignored several pertinent things.  

One: It's the charge of the Supreme court to interpret the Constitution and its framers intents in any given circumstance   Not to interpret Early American oddities.

Two:  At the very first meeting in Philadelphia where the framers eventually hammered out our great papers, kindly old Ben Franklin moved that they open each meeting with prayer in order to seek proper guidance.  He was unanimously voted down! 

So much for our highest court's ability to ascertain the desires of the Framers!

Lemual, the SCOTUS judges might be scared of the noise that xians can make on FOX Noise (the TV channel) and not want to rule against them.

I read court rulings on church/state separation and know of the Cranston prayer banner case. It might have settled in a district court (the lowest level) or in a federal circuit court court (the next higher level) and not SCOTUS.

If you want the actual ruling in the case and it went no higher than the district court you might have to contact one of the parties, since district courts are not "courts of record" whose rulings go to print or online libraries.

I regularly find SCOTUS rulings by googling "SCOTUS xxxxx" where xxxxx is the name of one of the parties.

I have found cases decided in federal appeals courts by finding the Circuit Court web page (9th Circuit on West coast, 11th Circuit in SE states, etc) and searching it for the case name, one of which in your case might be Cranston. The term "prayer banner" might take you to it.

I'm guessing that a search on "federal appellate court" and "Rhode Island" will get you closer to the actual ruling if a party appealed from the district court. 

If your argument is with theists, they might get irrational and insist that a ruling is "constitutional" only if SCOTUS, and not a lower court, decided it.




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