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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe

Volume 4 . Chapter 12 . § 12-15

Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe61 § 12-15

The Supreme Court ruled that student-led prayers at the start of public high school football games violated the First Amendment's nonestablishment of religion clause.

A public high school adopted a policy permitting, but not requiring, the school's "student council chaplain" to recite a nonsectarian, nonproselytizing prayer at the start of football games. This policy was challenged by two students, and their parents, as a violation of the First Amendment.

The school argued that the prayers were permissible since they were "private student speech" that was beyond the reach of the First Amendment, which is a limitation on government action.

The court agreed that private speech is beyond the ...

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