Landmark decisions of the Supreme Court have involved various provisions of the Bill of Rights. Many decisions made by the Supreme Court have impacted our nation greatly due to our flexible constitution. There have been decisions involving the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments. There have also been decisions establishing the Supreme Court and involving civil rights.
Two decisions made by the Supreme court involving the first amendment are Engel v. Vitale and Texas v. Johnson. Engel v. Vitale had come about because in In 1951 the New York State Board of Regents approved a 22-word “nondenominational prayer” for recitation each morning in the public schools of New York. The Regents believed that the prayer could be a useful tool for the development of character and good citizenship among the students of the State of New York. The prayer was offered to the school boards in the State for their use, and participation in the “prayer-exercise” was voluntary. In New Hyde Park, New York, the Union Free School District No. 9 directed the local principal to have the prayer “said aloud by each class in the presence of a teacher at the beginning of the school day.” The parents objected insisting that the use of this official prayer in the public schools was contrary to their own and their children's beliefs, religions, or religious practices.
The major constitutional issue in this case was whether or not the prayer being said in class breached the separation of church and state. Did the Regents of New York violate the religious freedom of students by providing time during the school day for this particular prayer? The court decided that government-directed prayer in public schools was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. This was decided in a vote of 6-1 where justice Hugo Black argued the importance of separation between church and state by giving a lengthy history of the issue, beginning with the sixteenth century in... [continues]
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