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Court Rulings on the Constitutionality of Including Invocations at Public High School Graduation Ceremonies

Two courts have ruled on the constitutionality of including invocations at public high school graduation ceremonies, with mixed results.

A California appeals court ruled that the inclusion of a religious invocation in a public high school graduation ceremony violated state and federal constitutional provisions prohibiting the establishment of religion. In reaching its conclusion, the court applied the three-part test often employed by the United States Supreme Court in deciding whether a challenged governmental action violates the first amendment's nonestablishment of religion clause: (1) the governmental action must have a secular purpose; (2) it must not have a primary effect that advances or inhibits religion; and (3) it must not create an excessive entanglement between church and state.

The inclusion of invocations at public high school graduation ceremonies violated all three of these ...

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Posted:
  • September 1, 1987

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