Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Rachel Weisman (Defendant), alleges that a school sponsored, non-denominational prayer offered at a public school graduation violated the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution).
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A public school cannot sponsor clerics to conduct even a non-denominational prayer as part of a graduation ceremony as the Constitution guarantees that government may not coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise or otherwise act in a way, which establishes a state religion, or tends to do so.
Issue. Whether including clerical members who offer prayer as part of the official school graduation ceremony is consistent with the Religions clauses of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Held. No, including clerical members who offer prayer as part of the official school ceremony is not consistent with the Religion Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. The fact that the principle decided that a cleric should offer a prayer at a public school graduation, is as if a state statute decreed that the prayers must occur. The principal’s act of giving the cleric guidelines for the prayer means the principal directed and controlled the content of the prayer in direct violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the preferring one religion over another. The court stated that the question is not the good faith of the school in attempting to make the prayer acceptable to most persons, but the legitimacy of its undertaking that enterprise at all, when the object is to produce a prayer to be used in a formal religious exercise, which students, for all practical purposes, are obliged to attend.
The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.View Full Point of Law