Impact: The impact is as follows. States cannot restrain individuals’ First
Amendment rights. These rights include the freedom to believe, worship, and
express onself with one’s own conscious. The effect was there could be no more
school sponsored prayer in school or at school related events.
Ruling: The court ruled in the favor of Mr. Jaffree in that his children’s
rights were violated in reference to the First Amendment Establishment Clause.
The 1981 Alabama Statute (16-1-20.1) was not neutral in a religious manner and
had the effect of inculcation and indoctrination of a certain religion in the
Relief Sought: The relief sought was to declare the 1981 Alabama Statute (16-1-20.1)
unconstitutional because the law violated the petitioner’s First Amendment
Establishment Clause Constitutional rights.
There was a law in Alabama that allowed teachers to recite prayers at different
school functions and in classrooms during the school day. A complaint was filed
by Mr. Jaffree on behalf of his three children to stop the practices of school
prayer. The complaint stated that his three children’s rights were violated by
religious indoctrination of the school by allowing prayer that was sponsored by
the school. Mr. Jaffree lived in Mobile County, Alabama. The law in question, 1981
Alabama Statute (16-1-20.1), was changed over the years to include the language
that “willing students” would be led in a prayer to “Almighty God.” The most
recent change in language of the law led to the law being disputed on the grounds
of indoctrinating children’s minds to a belief system, where the students are
impressionable and not yet mature enough to decide about religion on their own.
It addition, it was in dispute as to whether the law allowed state-sponsored
prayer. The District Court held that Alabama did not establish a state religion
with this law. As a result, Jaffree appealed to the Court of Appeals, which
overturned the District Court’s decision. The Court of Appeals decision led to
Jaffree’s relief at the Supreme Court level. The Supreme Court concluded that
the law was unconstitutional because it inculcated and supported a religion,
and it was a violation of The First Amendment Establishment Clause.
Citation: Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)
Analysis of a case regrading school-sponsored