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Engel v. Vitale

On June 25, 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the recitation of a prayer in New York public schools was unconstitutional.

The prayer in question was composed by the State Board of Regents and read "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country." The Court, whose majority opinion was written by Justice Hugo Black, with five other justices concurring and one, Justice Potter Stewart, dissenting, held that it was not the business of public officials to write or sanction official prayer. The Regents' action, said the Court, violated the religious-establishment clause of the First Amendment, even though recitation of the prayer was voluntary.

William J. Butler, attorney for Steven I. Engel, and Bertram B. Daiker, attorney for William J. Vitale, Jr., debate the implications of the Supreme Court's decision on an NBC Television program.

Potter Stewart

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This page was last updated on March 12, 2018.