Supreme Court Cases, Thematic Essay

Thematic Essay-Supreme Court Cases
The outcome of cases that have gone through the United States Supreme Court judicial branch have each had a major impact on how the laws and amendments of the United States Constitution are interpreted. Two cases in particular that expanded constitutional liberties is the case of Engel vs. Vitale (1962) and the case of Tinker vs. Des Moines School District (1969). Not only did both of these cases expand constitutional liberties in general, they more specifically, expanded rights within the school system.

In the case of Engel vs. Vitale, the main topic dealt with prayer at school. The New York State board of regents composed a non-denominational prayer to be used in the state’s public schools. Students were not forced to pray the prayer but rather the prayer was a voluntary decision. Some parents of the students were not in agreement with the use of the prayer in schools and wanted to challenge the constitutionality of it. They sued in the New York State Supreme Court and later appealed to the New York State Court of Appeals. After losing their argument each time the parents continued this case onto the United States Supreme Court.

The issue that was brought before the court was based on the first amendment of the Constitution. The question that was to be debated upon and later answered was; “Does the voluntary use of a government-written prayer in the public schools violate the establishment clause of the first amendment of the Constitution?”. After the case was heard, the court’s decision was to reverse the state court’s decisions. The court determined that “…the laws requiring or permitting use of the Regents’ prayer must be struck down…”-ultimately determining that the prayer written to be used in school was unconstitutional because it did not follow the right given for separation of church and state in the first amendment (Bill of Rights). This decision expanded the rights of United States citizens...
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