Legal Analysis of President Reagan's Proposed Constitutional Amendment on School Prayer

Congressional Research Service The Library of Congress Washington, D.C. 20540 LEGAL ANALYSIS OF PRESIDENT REAGAN'S PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON SCHOOL PRAYER David M. Ackerman Legislative Attorney American Law Division June 2, 1982 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Since the Supreme Court held state-sponsored prayer and Bible-reading in the public schools to violate the First Amendment in Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962) and Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), literally hundreds of constitutional amendments have been proposed in Congress to overturn those decisions. On May 17, 1982, President Reagan sent to Congress his recommended amendment--the first time a President has made such a proposal on the matter. His proposal provides as follows: Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or by any State to participate in prayer. This report notes that the Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment to bar the government from using, or permitting others to use, the public schools as instruments of inculcating religious faith or belief, but that it has found some accommodations with religion to be permissible and even, in the college context, compelled. The report further notes that on issues not yet adjudicated by the Supreme Court, the state and lower federal courts have uniformly held the First Amendment to permit government to sponsor periods for silent meditation and to accommodate baccalaureate services and commencement prayers in connection with graduation exercises, but have also uniformly held unconstitutional government accommodation of student-initiated prayer groups in public secondary schools. In addition, the report notes that outside of the public school context, the Supreme Court has found constitutional government involvement with religion in prisons and, by implication, in the military, and that state and lower federal courts have uniformly held constitutional the use of prayer to open meetings of legislative bodies. In other contexts, however, governmental involvement with prayer or affirmations of belief have been held unconstitutional. In this legal context the report finds that the language of the Presidentfs proposal would not change those existing interpretations of the First Amendment which either have not specifically involved prayer or have upheld government involvement with prayer in a particular context. The report further finds that because the proposal speaks only in terms of "individual or group prayer" and not of government sponsorship or other involvement, its effect on those interpretations of the First Amendment which have held government involvement with prayer in the public schools unconstitutional to be uncertain. In addition, the report finds that even if the element of government involvement with prayer is read into the proposal (as seems its intent), it remains unclear whether the proposal would legitimize all, or only some, of the various forms of government involvement with prayer in the public schools that have heretofore been struck down. The report further finds that the same uncertainty attends the question of the proposal's effect on government involvement with prayer in public institutions other than the schools. Finally, the report notes that the second sentence of the proposal would not change existing interpretations of the First Amendment but would assure that the first sentence would not be interpreted to legitimize governmental coercion of religious affirmation. The report also includes a reprise of past Congressional action on proposed constitutional amendments relating to school prayer, noting that majorities in both the House and Senate have in different Congresses voted for such proposals but that the necessary two-thirds majority was obtained only once and then apparently as part of a strategy to defeat a proposed "Equal Rights Amendment" by encumbering it with extraneous amendments. TABLE OF CONTENTS Page (1) Supreme Court Decisions Concerning Religious Activities in the Public Schools. (2) State and Lower Federal Court Decisions on Other School Prayer Situations. (a) Silent Meditation (b) Baccalaureate Services and Commencement Prayers (c) Student-initiated Prayer Groups (3) Court Decisions Involving Prayer in Public Institutions Other Than Schools. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 (1) Effect on Interpretations of First Amendment Which Have Not Involved Prayer. (2) Effect on Interpretations of First Amendent In Which Government Involvement With Prayer Has Been Upheld. (3) Effect on Interpretations of First Amendment Which Have Held Government Involvement With Prayer In Public Schools To Be Unconstitutional. (4) Effect on Government Involvement With Prayer in "Other Public Institutions" (5) Effect of Second Sentence of Proposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 . . . . . . . . . . . 16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 PAST CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ON PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS RELATING TO SCHOOL PRAYER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 LEGAL ANALYSIS OF PRESIDENT REAGAN'S PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON SCHOOL PRAYER INTRODUCTION On May 17, 1982, P r e s i d e n t Reagan recommended t o Congress t h a t t h e f o l l o w i n g l a n g u a g e be added a s an amendment t o t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n : Nothing i n t h i s C o n s t i t u t i o n s h a l l be c o n s t r u e d t o p r o h i b i t i n d i v i d u a l o r group p r a y e r i n p u b l i c s c h o o l s o r o t h e r p u b l i c i n s t i t u t i o n s . No p e r s o n s h a l l be r e q u i r e d by t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s o r by any S t a t e t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n prayer. 1/ I n a message accompanying t h e p r o p o s a l , t h e P r e s i d e n t s a i d t h a t t h e p u r p o s e o f t h e p r o p o s a l was " t o r e s t o r e t h e s i m p l e freedom o f o u r c i t i z e n s t o o f f e r p r a y e r i n o u r p u b l i c s c h o o l s and i n s t i t u t i o n s " : The amendment I p r o p o s e w i l l remove t h e b a r t o s c h o o l p r a y e r e s t a b l i s h e d by t h e Supreme Court and a l l o w p r a y e r back i n o u r s c h o o l s . 128 Cong. Rec. S5334 (May 17, 1982). I n a d d i t i o n , t h e P r e s i d e n t s t a t e d t h a t h i s p r o p o s a l would n o t compel anyone t o engage i n p r a y e r b u t would " a l l o w communities t o d e t e r m i n e f o r t h e m s e l v e s whether p r a y e r s h o u l d be p e r m i t t e d i n t h e i r p u b l i c . s c h o o l s and. . a l l o w i n d i v i d u a l s t o d e c i d e f o r t h e m s e l v e s whether t h e y 2/ wish t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n p r a y e r . " T h i s r e p o r t s e t s f o r t h t h e l e g a l c o n t e x t of t h e P r e s i d e n t ' s -1/ S u b s e q u e n t l y , t h e proposed l a n g u a g e was i n t r o d u c e d a s S. J. Res. 199 by S e n a t o r s Thunnond and Hatch and I1.J. Res. 493 by R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s K i n d n e s s , L o t t , and Beard. See 128 Cong. Rec. S5428 (May 18, 1982) ( d a i l y e d i t i o n ) and H2852 (May 25, 1 9 8 2 ) ( d a i l y e d i t i o n ) , r e s p e c t i v e l y . The f u l l t e x t o f t h e P r e s i d e n t ' s message i s p r i n t e d a s a n 21 ~ ~ ~ e n t zo it hx i s r e p o r t . proposal, analyzes the legal scope and effect of the proposed language, and briefly sketches past Congressional action on proposed constitutional amendments relating to school prayer. LEGAL CONTEXT The First Amendment provides in pertinent part that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." As worded, the establishment and free exercise clauses are applicable only to the federal government, but in the 1940's the Supreme Court held them to be part of the meaning of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and thus to 3/ apply to the states as well. Since that time the Court has on seven occasions addressed the meaning of these clauses with respect to the constitutionality of government involvement with religious activities in the public schools and on one occasion regarding religious activities in prisons. State and lower federal courts have further elaborated on their meaning in other situations relevant to the President's proposal. The following subsections detail this legal context. (1) Supreme Court Decisions Concerning Religious Activities in the Public Schools: Not all of the Court's decisions in this area directly concern the subject of President Reagan's proposal, that is, prayer in public schools and institutions. But cumulatively they provide the basic interpretation of the religion clauses of the First Amendment which, in part, the President's proposal appears intended to reverse. 3/ Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1940)(free exercise); ~versonv. Board of Education, 330 U. S. 1 (1947) (establishment). Five of the Court's seven decisions have held government sponsorship or sanction of particular religious activities in the public schools to violate the establishment of religion clause. In McCollum v. Board of 4I ducati ion the Court held unconstitutional, 8-1, a "shared time" program in which local schools permitted private teachers to come into the schools to give religious instruction to consenting students during the school day. The Court stated: The...facts...show the use of tarsupported property for religious instruction and the close cooperation between the school authorities and the religious council in promoting religious education. The operation of the State's compulsory education system thus assists and is integrated with the program of religious instruction carried on by separate religious sects....This is beyond all question a utilization of the tarestablished and taxsupported public school system to aid religious groups to spread their faith. And it falls squarely under the ban of the First Amendment.... 333 U.S. at 209-210. 5I Subsequently, in Engel v. ita ale and the companion cases of 6I Abington School District v. Schempp and Murray v. ~ u r l e t tthe Court held unconstitutional, by 6-1 and 8-1 majorities, respectively, state sponsorship of such devotional activities as prayer and Bible reading in the public schools, notwithstanding provisions for the excusal of students who did not wish to take part. In Engel the school invited students and teachers to join in daily recital of a prayer composed by the New York State Board of Regents, while in Abington and Murray selections from the Bible were read 4/ - 333 U.S. 203 (1948). 51 - 3 7 0 U.S. 4 2 1 (1962). and s t u d e n t s and t e a c h e r s were i n v i t e d t o j o i n i n unison r e c i t a l of t h e L o r d ' s P r a y e r . The s t a t e ' s s p o n s o r s h i p of t h e s e a c t i v i t i e s , t h e Court h e l d , v i o l a t e d " t h e command of t h e F i r s t Amendment t h a t t h e government m a i n t a i n s t r i c t n e u t r a l i t y , n e i t h e r a i d i n g nor opposing 7/ r e l i g i o n . "W r i t i n g f o r t h e Court i n Engel, J u s t i c e Black s t a t e d : ... t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p r o h i b i t i o n a g a i n s t laws r e s p e c t i n g an e s t a b l i s h m e n t of r e l i g i o n must a t l e a s t mean t h a t i n t h i s c o u n t r y i t i s no p a r t o f t h e b u s i n e s s of government t o compose o f f i c i a l p r a y e r s f o r any group of t h e American people t o r e c i t e a s a p a r t of a r e l i g i o u s program c a r r i e d on by government. 370 U.S. a t 425. And i n Abington J u s t i c e C l a r k , w r i t i n g f o r t h e Court, i n t e r p r e t e d t h e F i r s t Amendment t o impose a "wholesome n e u t r a l i t y " on government w i t h r e s p e c t t o r e l i g i o n which b a r s i t from p l a c i n g i t s " o f f i c i a l support ...behind t h e t e n e t s of one o r a l l o r t h o d o x i e s " a s w e l l a s from i n t e r f e r i n g w i t h " t h e r i g h t of every person t o f r e e l y choose 8/ h i s own c o u r s e w i t h r e f e r e n c e t h e r e t o . " 9/ I n Epperson v. ~ r k a n s a s t h e Court unanimously s t r u c k down a s t a t e s t a t u t e which imposed c i v i l and c r i m i n a l p e n a l t i e s on a p u b l i c s c h o o l t e a c h e r who gave i n s t r u c t i o n on t h e t h e o r y of e v o l u t i o n . The Court found t h a t t h e s o l e purpose of t h e s t a t u t e was t o " b l o t o u t a p a r t i c u l a r t h e o r y ( o f c r e a t i o n ) because of i t s supposed c o n f l i c t with the B i b l i c a l account, l i t e r a l l y read": No s u g g e s t i o n h a s been made t h a t Arkansas law may be j u s t i f i e d by c o n s i d e r a t i o n s of s t a t e p o l i c y o t h e r t h a n t h e r e l i g i o u s views of some o f i t s c i t i z e n s . It i s c l e a r t h a t f u n d a m e n t a l i s t s e c t a r i a n c o n v i c t i o n was and i s t h e l a w ' s r e a s o n f o r e x i s t e n c e . 393 U.S. a t 107-108. 71 - Id., - a t 225. 81 - Id., - a t 222. 9/ - 393 U . S . 97 (1968). S t a t i n g t h a t " t h e F i r s t Amendment does not permit t h e S t a t e t o r e q u i r e t h a t t e a c h i n g and l e a r n i n g be t a i l o r e d t o t h e p r i n c i p l e s o r p r o h i b i t i o n s 101 t h e Court s t r u c k down t h e s t a t u t e . o f any r e l i g i o u s s e c t o r dogma," 11 I More r e c e n t l y , i n Stone v. ~raham- t h e Court h e l d u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l , 5-4, a s t a t e s t a t u t e which r e q u i r e d t h a t a copy of t h e Ten Commandments, purchased w i t h p r i v a t e c o n t r i b u t i o n s , be p o s t e d on t h e w a l l of e a c h p u b l i c classroom i n t h e s t a t e . The Court found t h e " p r e e m i n e n t purpose" of t h e p o s t i n g requirement t o be " p l a i n l y r e l i g i o u s i n n a t u r e , " n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g c o n t r a r y d e c l a r a t i o n s by t h e l e g i s l a t u r e . A s a consequence, t h e Court h e l d t h a t t h e "mere p o s t i n g of t h e c o p i e s under t h e a u s p i c e s of t h e l e g i s l a t u r e p r o v i d e s t h e ' o f f i c i a l s u p p o r t of t h e State...Governmentl 12 I t h e Establishment Clause p r o h i b i t s . " that On t h e o t h e r hand, t h e Court h a s h e l d government involvement w i t h - r e l i g i o u s a c t i v i t i e s i n t h e p u b l i c s c h o o l s i n two i n s t a n c e s n o t t o v i o l a t e 13 I t h e F i r s t Amendment. I n Zorach v. lau us on- t h e Court, i n a 6-3 d e c i s i o n , upheld a s c o n s t i t u t i o n a l a l o c a l " r e l e a s e d time" program i n which p u b l i c s c h o o l c h i l d r e n whose p a r e n t s s o r e q u e s t e d were p e r m i t t e d t o l e a v e t h e schoolgrounds d u r i n g t h e s c h o o l day t o r e c e i v e r e l i g i o u s i n s t r u c t i o n from p r i v a t e t e a c h e r s i n nearby p r i v a t e f a c i l i t i e s . Differentiating the program from t h e "shared time" program s t r u c k down i n McCollum, s u p r a , t h e Court s t a t e d : I n t h e McCollum c a s e t h e c l a s s r o o m s were used f o r r e l i g i o u s i n s t r u c t i o n and t h e f o r c e of t h e p u b l i c s c h o o l was u s e d t o promote t h a t i n s t r u c t i o n . Here, as we have s a i d , t h e p u b l i c s c h o o l s do no more t h a n accommodate t h e i r s c h e d u l e s t o a program of o u t s i d e r e l i g i o u s i n s t r u c t i o n . 343 U.S. a t 315. The F i r s t Amendment, J u s t i c e Douglas w r o t e f o r t h e Court, r e q u i r e s a " c o m p l e t e and u n e q u i v o c a l " s e p a r a t i o n of c h u r c h and s t a t e , b u t i t does n o t r e q u i r e t h a t " t h e government show a c a l l o u s i n d i f f e r e n c e t o r e l i g i o u s 14 I groups" : When t h e s t a t e e n c o u r a g e s r e l i g i o u s i n s t r u c t i o n o r c o o p e r a t e s w i t h r e l i g i o u s a u t h o r i t i e s by a d j u s t i n g t h e schedule of p u b l i c e v e n t s t o s e c t a r i a n needs, i t f o l l o w s t h e b e s t of o u r t r a d i t i o n s . For i t t h e n r e s p e c t s t h e r e l i g i o u s n a t u r e o f o u r p e o p l e and accommodates t h e p u b l i c s e r v i c e t o t h e i r s p i r i t u a l n e e d s . Government may n o t f i n a n c e r e l i g i o u s g r o u p s n o r u n d e r t a k e r e l i g i o u s i n s t r u c t i o n n o r blend s e c u l a r and s e c t a r i a n e d u c a t i o n n o r u s e s e c u l a r i n s t i t u t i o n s t o f o r c e one o r some r e l i g i o n on any p e r s o n . But i t c a n c l o s e i t s d o o r s o r suspend i t s o p e r a t i o n s a s t o t h o s e who want t o r e p a i r t o t h e i r r e l i g i o u s s a n c t u a r y f o r w o r s h i p o r i n s t r u c t i o n . No more t h a n t h a t i s u n d e r t a k e n h e r e . 343 U . S . a t 313-14. 15I Most r e c e n t l y , t h e Court i n Widmar v. inc cent- h e l d , 8-1, t h a t ... a p u b l i c u n i v e r s i t y which r o u t i n e l y p e r m i t s s t u d e n t g r o u p s t o u s e campus f a c i l i t i e s may n o t b a r s u c h g r o u p s from u s i n g t h e f a c i l i t i e s f o r r e l i g i o u s w o r s h i p and d i s c u s s i o n . Such c o n t e n t - b a s e d d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , t h e C o u r t s t a t e d , v i o l a t e d t h e s t u d e n t s ' r i g h t of f r e e speech under t h e F i r s t and F o u r t e e n t h Amendment. The u n i v e r s i t y argued t h a t conformance w i t h t h e s e p a r a t i o n o f c h u r c h and s t a t e mandated by t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t c l a u s e c o n s t i t u t e d a compelling p u b l i c i n t e r e s t s u f f i c i e n t t o o v e r r i d e t h e s t u d e n t s ' i n t e r e s t s , b u t t h e Court r e f u s e d t o a g r e e t h a t a p o l i c y of accommodation would either place the imprimatur of university sponsorship on the religious activities or single out religious groups for any special benefits. The Court concluded: Having created a forum generally open to student groups, the University seeks to enforce a contentbased exclusion of religious speech. Its exclusionary policy violates the fundamental principle that a state regulation of speech should be contentneutral, and the University is unable to justify this violation under applicable constitutional standards. 102 S. Ct. at 278. In sum, the Court has interpreted the religion clauses of the 161 First Amendment to impose on government a "wholesome neutrality" with respect to religion in the public schools. The Court has made clear that not all government action relating to religion in the public schools is constitutionally forbidden. It has upheld the constitutional permissibility of "released time" programs. It has held in the college context, that student groups are constitutionally entitled to use campus facilities for religious purposes to the same extent as for other purposes. In dicta it has affirmed the -- 17I constitutionality of the public schools offering courses about religionand providing opportunities for students to take part in ceremonial or patriotic exercises which may incidentally involve a profession of 181 faith but are not essentially devotional. But the Court has also made clear that the First Amendment bars government from using the public schools as an instrument of inculcating 161 - Abington, supra, at 222. 17/ - Stone v. 9-Graham 181 - Engel, supra, at 421, ftnt. 21. supra, at 42. religious f a i t h or belief. It h a s h e l d t h a t government may n o t i t s e l f s p o n s o r d e v o t i o n a l a c t i v i t i e s a s a r e g u l a r p a r t of t h e s c h o o l day, n o r t a i l o r t h e c u r r i c u l u m t o t h e p r i n c i p l e s o r p r o h i b i t i o n s of any p a r t i c u l a r r e l i g i o u s s e c t o r dogma. It h a s f u r t h e r h e l d t h a t t h e F i r s t Amendment b a r s t h e government from p e r m i t t i n g p r i v a t e i n t e r e s t s t o u s e t h e s c h o o l p r e m i s e s f o r r e l i g i o u s i n s t r u c t i o n d u r i n g t h e s c h o o l day. ".. . ( T ) h e command of t h e F i r s t Amendment," t h e Court h a s s a i d , " ( i s ) t h a t t h e Government m a i n t a i n s t r i c t n e u t r a l i t y , n e i t h e r a i d i n g n o r 19I opposing r e l i g i o n . " ( 2 ) S t a t e and Lower F e d e r a l C o u r t D e c i s i o n s on O t h e r School P r a y e r Situations: I n a d d i t i o n t o e n f o r c i n g t h e Supreme C o u r t ' s r u l i n g s i n f a c t s i t u a t i o n s s i m i l a r o r i d e n t i c a l t o t h o s e above, t h e s t a t e and lower f e d e r a l c o u r t s have i n t e r p r e t e d t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t and f r e e e x e r c i s e c l a u s e s i n s e v e r a l s i t u a t i o n s involving prayer i n t h e public schools not y e t a d j u d i c a t e d by t h e Court. Among t h o s e s t a t e and lower f e d e r a l c o u r t a d j u d i c a t i o n s , t h e following t h r e e a r e a s appear d i r e c t l y p e r t i n e n t t o P r e s i d e n t Reagan's p r o p o s a l : (a) S i l e n t meditation: J u s t i c e Brennan, i n a c o n c u r r i n g o p i n i o n i n A b i n g t o n , o p i n e d t h a t t h e r e was no c o n s t i t u t i o n a l o b j e c t i o n t o t h e p u b l i c s c h o o l s o b s e r v i n g " a moment of r e v e r e n t s i l e n c e " a t t h e 201 and t h e New Hampshire Supreme Court beginning of each school day, h a s on two o c c a s i o n s a d v i s e d t h e s t a t e l e g i s l a t u r e t h a t s t a t u t e s p r e s c r i b i n g a p e r i o d f o r s i l e n t m e d i t a t i o n a t t h e b e g i n n i n g of e a c h 191 - Abington, s u p r a , a t 225. 201 - Abington, s u p r a , a t 280-81 (Brennan, J., c o n c u r r i n g ) . s c h o o l d a y would be c o n s t i t u t i o n a l . 21/ - But t h e m a t t e r h a s been f o r m a l l y adjudicated i n only a s i n g l e case. 22 / I n G a i n e s v. ~ n d e r s o n - a t h r e e - j u d g e f e d e r a l d i s t r i c t c o u r t u p h e l d t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of a s t a t e s t a t u t e p r e s c r i b i n g a p e r i o d o f s i l e n c e " f o r m e d i t a t i o n o r p r a y e r " a t t h e b e g i n n i n g o f e a c h s c h o o l day. The c o u r t found t h e p r e s c r i p t i o n of a moment of s i l e n c e t o s e r v e s u c h p e r m i s s i b l e s e c u l a r and n o n - r e l i g i o u s p u r p o s e s a s s t i l l i n g t h e t u m u l t of t h e playground and i n c u l c a t i n g s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e and r e s p e c t f o r authority. The c o u r t f u r t h e r found m e d i t a t i o n t o be " n o t n e c e s s a r i l y a r e l i g i o u s e x e r c i s e " and h e l d t h a t t h e a d d i t i o n of t h e p h r a s e " o r p r a y e r " t o t h e s t a t u t e d i d no more t h a n r e f l e c t a " l e g i s l a t i v e s e n s i t i v i t y t o t h e F i r s t Amendment's mandate t o t a k e a n e u t r a l p o s i t i o n t h a t n e i t h e r 23 / e n c o u r a g e s n o r d i s c o u r a g e s p r a y e r . "Thus, t h e c o u r t found n o 24 / constitutional objection t o the statute. ( b ) B a c c a l a u r e a t e s e r v i c e s and commencement p r a y e r s : Similarly, s t a t e and lower f e d e r a l c o u r t s have found no c o n s t i t u t i o n a l o b j e c t i o n t o t h e h o l d i n g of s e c t a r i a n b a c c a l a u r e a t e s e r v i c e s o r t o t h e i n c l u s i o n o f i n v o c a t i o n s and b e n e d i c t i o n s i n commencement c e r e m o n i e s r e l a t i n g t o 21/ Opinion o f t h e J u s t i c e s , 108 N.H. 97, 228 A. 2d 1 6 1 (1967) and o p i n i o n o f t h e J u s t i c e s , 113 N.H. 297, 307 A. 2d 558 (1973). 22/ 421 F. Supp. 337 (D. Mass. 1976). It might be n o t e d t h a t 2 1 s t a t e s have now a d o p t e d s t a t u t e s 24/ r e q u i r i n g o r p e r m i t t i n g moments of s i l e n t m e d i t a t i o n . See CRS, " S t a t e S t a t u t e s R e l a t i n g To P r a y e r and B i b l e Reading i n t h e P u b l i c S c h o o l s A t t h e Time Of, and Subsequent To, E n g e l and Abington" ( A p r i l 1, 1 9 8 2 ) . CRS- 10 25 / graduation from public schools. The courts have uniformly held government's involvement with religion in these circumstances to be so attenuated as to be de minimis. As one court has stated: There is none of the repetitive or pedagogical function of the exercises which characterized the school prayer cases. There is no element of calculated indoctrination...The event, in short, is so fleeting that no significant transfer of government prestige can be anticipated. There is no state financial outlay and the Court cannot visualize the organs of state government becoming infected by a divisive religious battle for control of this brief and transient exercise. Grossberg v. Deusebio, 380 F. Supp. 285, 289 (E.D. Va. 1974). (c) Student-initiated prayer groups: In contrast to the foregoing, the state and lower federal courts that have addressed the issue have uniformly concurred that the use of public elementary and secondary school facilities at student initiative for religious purposes is unconstitutional. In two of the cases the courts have found school officials rather than students to be the initiating force behind the devotional meetings and thus have found the cases controlled by 26I In two others the courts have found the Engel and Abington. students to be the initiators of the religious activity but have found the mode of the activity to be so intertwined with the school 251 Wood v. Mt. Lebanon Township School District, 342 F. Supp. 1293 W.D. Pa. 1972); Goodwin v. Cross County School District No. 7, 394 F. Supp. 417 (E.D. Ark. 1973); Grossberg v. Deusebio, 380 F. Supp. 285 (E.D. Va. 1974); Chamberlin v. Dade County Board of Public Instruction, 143 So. 2d 21 (Fla. l962), vacated and remanded 377 U.S. 402 (l963), previous opinion reinstated 160 So. 2d 97 (Fla.), reversed in part, dismissed in part -377 U.S. 402 (1964), on remand 171 So. 2d 535 (Fla. 1965). State Board of Education v. Board of Education, Netcong, New 261 aff'd 57 N.J. 172, 270 A. 2d 4 ~ e r s e E108 N.J. Sup. 586, Commissioner of Education v. (1970), cert. den. 401 U.S. den. '6, 267 N.E. 2d 226, (cert. School committee of Leyden, 404 U.S. 849 (1971). - -- - CRS- 11 program a s t o connote s t a t e s p o n s o r s h i p . 27 / - But i n t h r e e c a s e s s t a t e and f e d e r a l a p p e l l a t e c o u r t s have found t h e s t u d e n t s t o be t h e i n i t i a t o r s of group d e v o t i o n a l meetings y e t n o n e t h e l e s s have h e l d t h e imprimatur of s t a t e s p o n s o r s h i p g i v e n t h e a c t i v i t i e s by t h e " i n s t i t u t i o n a l l y c o e r c i v e " s e t t i n g of t h e p u b l i c s c h o o l s , t h e s u b s i d i e s involved i n t h e groups' u s e of s c h o o l f a c i l i t i e s , and/or t h e involvement of s c h o o l o f f i c i a l s i n supervising the a c t i v i t i e s t o bring the a c t i v i t e s within 281 t h e p r o s c r i p t i o n s of t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t c l a u s e . These c o u r t s have - a l s o uniformly h e l d s t u d e n t s ' c l a i m s based on t h e f r e e e x e r c i s e , f r e e speech, and e q u a l p r o t e c t i o n c l a u s e s t o be u n a v a i l i n g a g a i n s t t h e s e establishment clause considerations. A s t h e United S t a t e s Court of Appeals f o r t h e Second C i r c u i t s t a t e d i n t h e most r e c e n t c a s e : Two s i g n i f i c a n t f a c t o r s . . . d e f e a t t h e c l a i m s . F i r s t , a h i g h s c h o o l i s n o t a " p u b l i c forum" where r e l i g i o u s Equally compelling, t h e views can be f r e e l y a i r e d s t u d e n t s i n t h i s c a s e propose t o conduct p r a y e r meetings i n t h e h i g h s c h o o l , n o t merely d i s c u s s i o n s about r e l i g i o u s m a t t e r s . When t h e e x p l i c i t E s t a b l i s h m e n t Clause p r o s c r i p t i o n a g a i n s t p r a y e r i n t h e t h e p r o t e c t i o n s of public schools i s considered p o l i t i c a l and r e l i g i o u s speech...are i n a p p o s i t e . . . . I n s h o r t , t h e s e two v i t a l d i s t i n c t i o n s i n d i c a t e t h a t t h e s t u d e n t s ' f r e e speech and a s s o c i a t i o n a l r i g h t s , c o g n i z a b l e i n a " p u b l i c forum," a r e s e v e r e l y c i r c u m s c r i b e d by t h e E s t a b l i s h m e n t Clause i n t h e .... ..., Goodwin v. /, s u p r a ( u s e of 271 p u b l i c a d d r e s s system by s t u d e n t c o u n c i l f o r p r a y e r and B i b l e r e a d i n g 2d e a c h s c h o o l day); C o l l i n s v. Chandler U n i f i e d School D i s t r i c t , 664 759 ( 9 t h C i r . ) , c e r t . den. 102 S. C t . 322 ( 1 9 8 l ) ( o p e n i n g of s c h o o l a s s e m b l i e s w i t h p r a y e r by s t u d e n t s e l e c t e d by s t u d e n t c o u n c i l ) . FT 281 Johnson v. Huntington Beach Union High School D i s t r i c t , 13 Cal. F t r . 43, 68 Cal. App. 3d 1 (Ct. App.), c e r t . den. 434 U.S. 877 T r i e t l e y v. Board of E d u c a t i o n of t h e C i t y of B u f f a l o , 65 A. D. 2d 1, N.Y. S. 2d 912 (App. Div. 1978); Brandon v. Board of Education of t h e G u i l d e r l a n d C e n t r a l School D i s t r i c t , -635 . F c e r t . den. 102 S. C t . 970 (1981). public school setting. Because of the symbolic effect that prayer in the schools would produce, we find that Establishment Clause considerations must prevail in this context. Brandon v. Guilderland Central School District, supra, at 9 8 0 . Perhaps significantly, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in this case soon after it issued its contrary ruling in the public college context in Widmar v. Vincent, supra. In sum, then, state and lower federal court decisions have applied the religion clauses of the First Amendment in three contexts involving school prayer seemingly relevant to President Reagan's proposal but not yet definitively adjudicated by the Supreme Court. These courts have uniformly found no constitutional objection to government prescription of a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day or to baccalaureate services and commencement prayers offered in connection with graduation exercises. But they have found unconstitutional the use of secondary school facilities during the school day by student prayer and Bible study groups. While these rulings cannot be considered the final or definitive interpretations of the First Amendment in these 29 I the unanimity of contexts, the courts that have addressed the issues provides, at the least, firm guidance on that interpretation. Court Decisions Involving Prayer in Public Institutions Other Than Schools: Because President Reagan's proposal concerns not only prayer in public schools but also prayer in "other public institutions," the legal context also includes interpretations of the First Amendment in public institutions other than schools. It is a well-established principle, for instance, that government is permitted 291 - Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1 ( 1 9 5 8 ) . and, perhaps, even obligated to make provision for religious exercises when individuals, as the result of government action, have been deprived or removed from their usual outlets for religious expression. This principle finds its most obvious application in the contexts of 301 prisons and military service. As Justice Brennan summarized the principle in Abington: ...( S)uch provisions may be assumed to contravene the Establishment Clause, yet be sustained on constitutional grounds as necessary to secure to the members of the Armed Forces and prisoners those rights of worship guaranteed under the Free Exercise Clause. Since government has deprived such persons of the opportunity to practice their faith at places of their choice..., government may, in order to avoid infringing the free exercise guarantees, provide substitutes where it requires such persons to be. ...( H)ostility, not neutrality, would characterize the refusal to provide chaplains and places of worship for prisoners and soldiers cut off by the State from all civilian opportunities for public communion.... Abington School District v. Schempp, supra, at 297-299 (Brennan, J., concurring). In addition, state and lower federal courts have uniformly upheld the constitutionality of opening the meetings of state and local 311 legislative bodies with religious invocations. (This uniformity does not extend to the question of the constitutionality of paying a - 301 Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972)(state prison held c o n s t ~ ~ t obligated i o ~ ~ to provide opportunities for religious expression by Buddhist inmate); Rudd v. Ray, 248 N.W. 2d 125 (Iowa 1976)(provision of chaplains and chapels at public expense in state prison held constitutional); Theriault v. 9-Silber 547 F. 2d 1279 (5th Cir. 1977)(employment of chaplains in federal prisons held constitutional). 311 Marsa v. Wernik, 86 N.J. 232, 430 A. 2d 888 (1981); chambers v. Marsh, 504 F. Supp. 585 (D. Neb. 1980); Voswinkel v. City of Charlotte, 495 F. Supp. 588 (W.D. N. Car. 1980); Bogen v. Doty, 598 F. 2d 1110 (8th Cir. 1979); Lincoln v. Page 109 N.H. ' 30, 241 A. 2d 799 (1960). CRS- 14 s a l a r y t o l e g i s l a t i v e c h a p l a i n s , however. 32 / ) The c o u r t s have been / wary i n t h i s c o n c l u s i o n , terming t h e m a t t e r a p o t e n t i a l "quagmire." 33 / - But t h e y , n o n e t h e l e s s , have h e l d t h e purpose and primary e f f e c t of s u c h i n v o c a t i o n s t o be t o s e t a tone of solemnity f o r t h e l e g i s l a t i v e p r o c e e d i n g s and, on t h e f a c t s b e f o r e them, not t o e x c e s s i v e l y e n t a n g l e government w i t h r e l i g i o n . I n o t h e r contexts not s p e c i f i c a l l y involving public i n s t i t u t i o n s b u t h a v i n g some b e a r i n g , t h e F i r s t Amendment h a s been h e l d t o b a r t h e government from d i s s e m i n a t i n g w r i t t e n p r a y e r s o r r e q u i r i n g In i n d i v i d u a l s t o s e r v e a s b e a r e r s of i t s i d e o l o g i c a l messages. 34 / Wooley v. ~ a ~ n a t rh ed Court h e l d t h a t a s t a t e c a n n o t , c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h e f r e e e x e r c i s e c l a u s e , compel an i n d i v i d u a l t o use l i c e n s e p l a t e s b e a r i n g an i d e o l o g i c a l message t h a t v i o l a t e s t h e i n d i v i d u a l ' s 35/ S i m i l a r l y , i n H a l l v. ~ r a d s h a w - a f e d e r a l a p p e l l a t e religious beliefs. - c o u r t h e l d u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l a s t a t e ' s i n c l u s i o n of a " m o t o r i s t ' s p r a y e r " on s t a t e maps p u b l i s h e d and d i s t r i b u t e d a t p u b l i c expense. I n sum, t h e n , o u t s i d e of t h e p u b l i c s c h o o l c o n t e x t , t h e r e l i g i o n c l a u s e s of t h e F i z s t Amendment have been uniformly i n t e r p r e t e d by t h e c o u r t s t o p e r m i t government involvement w i t h p r a y e r i n such p u b l i c i n s t i t u t i o n s a s p r i s o n s , t h e m i l i t a r y , and l e g i s l a t i v e b o d i e s , b u t t o b a r government s p o n s o r s h i p of p r a y e r s on s t a t e l i t e r a t u r e o r l i c e n s e p l a t e s . 32/ Compare Chambers v. Marsh, s u p r a (payments t o s t a t e l e g i s l a t i v e c h a p l a i n and p r i n t i n g of c h a p l a i n ' s p r a y e r s a t p u b l i c expense h e l d u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l ) w i t h Colo v. T r e a s u r e r , 378 Mass. 550, 392 N.E. 2d 1195 (1979)(state l e g i s l a t i v e chaplain's s a l a r y held c o n s t i t u t i o n a l ) . 33/ - Bogen v. s, supra, 34/ - 430 U.S. 705 (1977). 35/ - 630 F. 2d 1018 ( 4 t h C i r . a t 1114. 1980), c e r t . den. 450 U.S. 965 (1981). CRS- 15 LEGAL EFFECT OF PRESIDENT'S PROPOSAL As a constitutional amendment, of course, the President's proposal is not subject to any constitutional objection or question. The sole legal question is how the proposal, if adopted, would change existing interpretations of the Constitution and, more particularly, of the First Amendment. (1) Effect on Interpretations of First Amendment Which Have Not Involved Prayer: At the outset, it should be noted that the President's proposal concerns only "individual or group prayer in public schools or other public buildings." Thus, it would appear to have no effect on other matters concerning government and religion that have been addressed in the decisions noted above. It would not appear, for instance to reverse the Court's decision in McCollum v. Board of Education, supra in which the Court held the establishment clause to bar the public schools from letting private teachers give religious instruction to consenting students during the school day on the school premises. It would appear to have no effect on the teaching of evolution in the public schools (Epperson v. Arkansas, supra). It would appear not to affect the Court's decision in Stone v. 9-Graham supra, in which the Court held unconstitutional a state statute directing that wall plaques containing the Ten Commandments be hung on every schoolroom wall. Finally, and perhaps most important, it would appear not to affect that part of the Court's decision in Abington School District v. Schempp, and Murray v. Curlett, supra, CRS- 16 in which the Court held the establishment clause to proscribe state sponsorship of devotional Bible reading in the public schools. The proposal focuses exclusively on "individual or group prayer." (2) Effect on Interpretations of First Amendment In Which Government Involvement With Prayer Has Been Upheld: Moreover, because the proposed amendment is stated in the negative--"Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit..."-it also would appear to have no effect on those present interpretations of the First Amendment in which government accommodation of individual or group prayer has been found% to be prohibited. Thus, it would not alter the Supreme Court's decision in Zorach v. Clauson, supra, in which the Court held constitutional government accommodation of private religious exercises off the public elementary and secondary school grounds during the school day, nor the Court's decision in Widmar v. Vincent, supra, in which the Court held that public college students have a constitutional right to use campus facilities for group prayer to the same extent as they may use the facilities for non-religious purposes. Nor would the proposed language appear to affect the so-far uniform decisions of the state and lower federal courts which have held the First Amendment not to prohibit state prescription of periods of silence in the public schools or the holding of sectarian baccalaureate services and the inclusion of prayers in commencement ceremonies as part of high school graduation exercises. Nor would the proposed language appear to alter those decisions which have affirmed the constitutionality of government involvement with prayer in the contexts of prisons, the military, and legislative bodies. The President's proposal, in other words, would not alter existing interpretations of the First Amendment which either have not involved individual or group prayer or which have held government involvement with prayer to be permitted rather than prohibited. Its sole effect in this regard would be to reinforce those interpretations in which government involvement with prayer has been held to be permitted. (3) Effect on Interpretations of First Amendment Which Have Held Government Involvement With Prayer in Public Schools To Be Unconstitutional: The primary substantive effect of the proposal was stated by President Reagan in his accompanying message to be to "remove the bar to school prayer established by the Supreme Court and allow prayer back in our schools." However, it is not entirely certain that the language of the proposal is sufficient to accomplish this result. Each of the judicial decisions which have involved prayer in the public schools has framed the constitutional question not in terms of the permissibility of the activity itself but in terms of the permissibility of government's sponsorship of, or involvement with, that activity. That is, in Engel the Court interpreted the establishment clause to mean not that prayer is unconstitutional but that "in this country it is no part of the business 36I of government to compose official prayer emphasis added). ..."( - In Abington the Court emphasized that "the concept of neutrality" inherent in the First Amendment "does not permit a State to require ...." a religious exercise even with the consent of the majority 37/ (emphasis added). In Brandon a federal appellate court identified 361 Engel, supra, at 4 2 5 . 371 - Abington, supra, at 2 2 5 . t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i n f i r m i t y t o be n o t t h e s t u d e n t - i n i t i a t e d group p r a y e r a c t i v i t y i t s e l f b u t t h e "appearance ...t h a t i t s imprimatur on a p a r t i c u l a r r e l i g i o u s c r e e d . . t h e s t a t e h a s placed 38 / (emphasis added). .." Yet t h e P r e s i d e n t ' s p r o p o s a l speaks n o t i n terms of government involvement w i t h p r a y e r i n t h e p u b l i c s c h o o l s b u t i n terms of t h e a c t i v i t y i t s e l f , t h a t i s , " i n d i v i d u a l o r group prayer." Thus, t h e language of t h e p r o p o s a l , i f r e a d l i t e r a l l y , l e a v e s some doubt t h a t i t r e a c h e s and r e v e r s e s t h o s e j u d i c i a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of t h e F i r s t Amendment which have h e l d u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l government s p o n s o r s h i p o f , o r o t h e r involvement w i t h , prayer i n t h e public schools. An i n t e r p r e t a t i o n t h a t t h e p r o p o s a l does not r e a c h and r e v e r s e such i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , of c o u r s e , would seem i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h i t s s t a t e d i n t e n t . The P r e s i d e n t i n h i s accompanying s t a t e m e n t made c l e a r h i s i n t e n t t o "remove t h e b a r t o s c h o o l p r a y e r e s t a b l i s h e d by t h e Supreme Court and a l l o w p r a y e r back i n our s c h o o l s " (though he d i d s o w i t h o u t mentioning o r c i t i n g t h e Supreme Court d e c i s i o n ( s ) t h a t he would change). Senator Thurmond, i n i n t r o d u c i n g t h e p r o p o s a l a s S. J. Res. 199, c i t e d Engel a s a l t e r i n g t h e o r i g i n a l meaning of t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t c l a u s e and described t h e proposal a s intended t o " r e i n s t a t e ( ) the o r i g i n a l i n t e n t of t h e Founding F a t h e r s and p e r m i t ( ) i n d i v i d u a l and group p r a y e r i n 39 / - Moreover, p u b l i c s c h o o l s o r o t h e r Government-owned institutions...." t h e second s e n t e n c e of t h e proposal--"No person s h a l l be r e q u i r e d by t h e United S t a t e s o r by any S t a t e t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n prayerw-seems - to 381 Brandon v. Board of Education of G u i l d e r l a n d School D i s t r i c t , s u p r a , a t 978. 391 - 128 Cong. Rec. S5428 (May 18, 1 9 8 2 ) ( d a i l y e d . ) . imply that some government role is contemplated by the first sentence of the proposal. The point simply is that without resort to such ancillary sources regarding the intent of the proposal (and to additional legislative history that may be developed in the future as the proposal is considered), the language of the first sentence of the proposal leaves some ambiguity as to its effective scope. (In this connection it might also be noted that it is not unknown for legislative enactments to be judicially interpreted in one manner notwithstanding strong indications to the 40/ contrary in the enactments' legislative histories. ) Nonetheless, if the proposal were construed, as seems likely, to legitimize government sponsorship of prayer in the public schools and other public buildings, some ambiguity still remains. As can be seen in the decisions cited in the foregoing section, government involvement with prayer in the public schools has come in a variety of forms. In Engel a government body itself composed a prayer and 41 1 .- recommended its recital by teachers and students. In Abington and Murray governmental bodies provided for the unison recital of the Lord's Prayer. In Brandon and Huntington Beach the proposed student prayer groups apparently involved only students, but in Trietley the program was initiated by a local minister and provided for the participation of a teacher as well as students. Other cases show (1980); 401 E.g., N.L .R.B. v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 440 U. S. 490 United Steelworkers of America v. Weber, 443 U.S. 193 (1979). 41/ The prayer composed by the New York Board of Regents was as follows: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country." other forms: In the recent case of Karen B. v. 42/ ree enteachers were authorized to ask whether any student wished to offer a prayer and, if no student volunteered, to offer their own prayers. In Collins v. Chandler Unified School District, supra, the student council, with the approval of school officials, selected students to open student assemblies with prayer. Another case involved daily opening assemblies in which, at school board direction, a student read the chaplain's "remarks" from 43/ the Congressional Record. Given this variety in past forms of - government involvement with prayer in the public schools--forms which have been held unconstitutional under the establishment clause, the question arises whether the President's proposal would legitimize all, or only some, of these forms of involvement and, if only some, which ones. Again, the future legislative history of the proposal may clarify this matter. (4) Effect on Government Involvement With Prayer in "Other Public Institutions": As worded, the President's proposal concerns individual and group prayer not only in the public schools but also in "other public institutions," without limitation. Thus, its potential substantive scope appears considerably broader than just school prayer. 42/ 653 F. 2d897 (5thCir. 1981), aff'dmem. 102 S. Ct. 1267 (1982). State Board of Education v. Board of Education of Netcong, 43/ ~ , N.J. Sup. 586, 262 A. 2d 21, aff'd 57 N.J. 172, 270 New ~ z s e 108 A. 2d 412 (1970), cert. den. 401 U.S. 1013 (1971). Again, however, the nature of its effect on the legal status of prayer in public institutions other than the schools appears to depend on whether, and the extent to which, a concept of government sponsorship is read into the proposal. If no concept of government sponsorship is read into its language, it would appear not to alter existing law in this regard. If a narrow concept of government sponsorship is read into it, the proposal might do no more than reinforce those existing interpretations of the First Amendment which have upheld some government involvement with prayer in prisons, the military, and legislative assemblies. If, on the other hand, an expansive concept of government sponsorship is read into the proposal, it might legitimate government sponsorship of prayer opportunities for public employees on the job, for visitors to museums, or for applicants for public assistance. If, as the statements of the President and the proposal's Senate sponsor indicate, the proposal is intended to legitimate some government involvement with prayer in the public schools, the same logically would seem true regarding government involvement with prayer in other public institutions. But at this point in its legislative consideration, the proposal appears ambiguous on the intended scope of this involvement. (5) Effect of Second Sentence of Proposal: Finally, it might be noted that the second sentence of the President's proposal--"No person shall be required by the United States or by any State to participate in prayerw--appears not to change existing iaw. Present interpretations of the First Amendment hold that the government has no power to compel any person to declare a religious belief or to participate in exercises involving affirmations contrary t o individual belief. 44 / - The e f f e c t o f t h e s e c o n d s e n t e n c e , t h u s , a p p e a r s t o be t o make c l e a r t h a t t h e f i r s t sentence does not a l t e r t h i s p r i n c i p l e . PAST CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ON PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS S i n c e t h e Supreme C o u r t ' s d e c i s i o n s i n 1962 and 1963 i n E n g e l and A b i n g t o n , e v e r y C o n g r e s s h a s w i t n e s s e d t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n of numerous 451 p r o p o s a l s t o amend t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n w i t h r e s p e c t t o t h i s i s s u e . The S e n a t e h a s v o t e d t w i c e on s u c h p r o p o s a l s , t h e House once. I n 1966 Sen. D i r k s e n ( R - I l l . ) o f f e r e d a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l amendment on p r a y e r a s a s u b s t i t u t e f o r a pending j o i n t r e s o l u t i o n t o d e s i g n a t e O c t o b e r 3 1 o f e a c h y e a r a s " N a t i o n a l UNICEF Day." The o p e r a t i v e p a r t o f h i s amendment p r o v i d e d as f o l l o w s : Nothing c o n t a i n e d i n t h i s C o n s t i t u t i o n s h a l l p r o h i b i t t h e a u t h o r i t y a d m i n i s t e r i n g any s c h o o l , s c h o o l system, educational i n s t i t u t i o n o r other public building s u p p o r t e d i n whole o r i n p a r t . t h r o u g h t h e e x p e n d i t u r e o f p u b l i c f u n d s from p r o v i d i n g f o r o r p e r m i t t i n g t h e v o l u n t a r y p a r t i c i p a t i o n by s t u d e n t s o r o t h e r s i n p r a y e r . N o t h i n g c o n t a i n e d i n t h i s a r t i c l e s h a l l a u t h o r i z e any s u c h a u t h o r i t y t o p r e s c r i b e t h e form o r c o n t e n t o f any prayer. Sen. Bayh (D-Ind.) i n t u r n proposed a s a s u b s t i t u t e f o r t h e D i r k s e n p r o p o s a l a s e n s e o f t h e Congress r e s o l u t i o n i n t e r p r e t i n g t h e Supreme C o u r t ' s d e c i s i o n s a s c o n t i n u i n g t o p e r m i t moments of " s i l e n t , v o l u n t a r y 441 T o r c a s o v. W a t k i n s , 367 U.S. 488 (1961); West V i r g i n i a Board o f ~ d u c a z o nv. B a r n e t t e , 319 U.S. 624 (1943); Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 ( 1 9 7 7 ) . 451 W i t h i n t h r e e d a y s of t h e Engel r u l i n g , more t h a n f i t y p r o p o s e d c o n s t i t u t i o n a l amendments had been i n t r o d u c e d , and by t h e end of t h e 8 8 t h C o n g r e s s , a f t e r Abington, n o r e t h a n one hundred f i f t y I n t h e p r e s e n t Congress, i n a d d i t i o n t o t h e P r e s i d e n t ' s had been o f f e r e d . p r o p o s a l s , t e n o t h e r c o n s t i t u t i o n a l amendments r e l a t i n g t o p r a y e r h a v e been introduced--House J o i n t R e s o l u t i o n s 24, 30, 69, 123, 126, 132, 135, 164, 170, and 311. prayer o r meditation" i n t h e schools. After extensive debate, t h e S e n a t e r e j e c t e d t h e Bayh s u b s t i t u t e , 33-52, and t h e n approved s u b s t i t u t i n g t h e t e x t of t h e D i r k s e n p r o p o s a l f o r t h e pending j o i n t r e s o l u t i o n , 51-36. On t h e c r u c i a l v o t e on f i n a l p a s s a g e , however, t h e S e n a t e v o t e d o n l y 49-37 46 / two-thirds majority. i n f a v o r , n i n e v o t e s s h o r t of t h e n e c e s s a r y I n 1970 a p r a y e r amendment s u r f a c e d u n e x p e c t e d l y i n c o n n e c t i o n w i t h t h e S e n a t e ' s d e b a t e on t h e proposed E q u a l R i g h t s Amendment. Baker (R-Tenn.) Sen. proposed as a n amendment t o t h e p e n d i n g ERA t h e f o l l o w i n g : Nothing c o n t a i n e d i n t h i s C o n s t i t u t i o n s h a l l a b r i d g e t h e r i g h t o f p e r s o n s l a w f u l l y assembled, i n any p u b l i c b u i l d i n g which i s s u p p o r t e d i n whole o r i n p a r t t h r o u g h t h e e x p e n d i t u r e of p u b l i c f u n d s , t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n nondenominational p r a y e r . A f t e r b r i e f d e b a t e t h e S e n a t e added t h i s amendment t o t h e ERA by a v o t e of 47 / 50-20. T h i s v o t e was w i d e l y p e r c e i v e d , however, a s a v o t e n o t on t h e m e r i t s o f t h e p r a y e r i s s u e b u t a s p a r t of a s t r a t e g y t o s o encumber t h e ERA w i t h e x t r a n e o u s m a t t e r s t h a t i t s s u p p o r t e r s would l e t i t d i e . When t h e S e n a t e a l s o added a n amendment t o t h e ERA exempting women from t h e d r a f t , t h i s s t r a t e g y was s u c c e s s f u l . Thus, b o t h t h e ERA and t h e amendments added t o i t went no f u r t h e r i n t h a t Congress. The c o n t r o v e r s y o v e r government-sponsored d i d n o t r e s u l t i n a House v o t e u n t i l 1971. House a c t i o n i n t h a t y e a r was H.J. prayer i n the public schools The b i l l t h a t became t h e f o c u s o f Res. 191, s p o n s o r e d by Rep. Wylie (R-Ohio), 46/ See 112 Cong. Rec. 23063-23084, 23202-23207, and 23531-23556 (1966). 23122-23147, 23155-23163, For t h e d e b a t e and v o t e on t h e p r a y e r amendment, s e e 116 47/ Cong. Rec. S36478-S36505 (Oct. 13, 1 9 7 0 ) . which was i d e n t i c a l t o t h e Baker amendment noted above. Because t h e House J u d i c i a r y Committee r e f u s e d t o r e p o r t any of t h e proposed b i l l s on t h e p r a y e r i s s u e t h a t were r e f e r r e d t o i t , t h e s u p p o r t e r s of t h e Wylie amendment resorted t o the little-used t a c t i c of a d i s c h a r g e p e t i t i o n , which p e r m i t s a m a j o r i t y of t h e House (218 members) t o d i s c h a r g e a committee from c o n s i d e r a t i o n of a b i l l i f t h e b i l l h a s been pending b e f o r e i t f o r 30 days o r more. l l f t e r an e x t e n s i v e lobbying and g r a s s - r o o t s campaign by such groups a s t h e P r a y e r Campaign Committee, t h e Back t o God movement, and t h e N a t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n of E v a n g e l i c a l s , t h e d i s c h a r g e p e t i t i o n on S e p t . 21, 1971, o b t a i n e d t h e r e q u i s i t e 218 s i g n a t u r e s t o b r i n g t h e Wylie amendment d i r e c t l y t o t h e f l o o r of t h e House f o r a v o t e . Because House r u l e s prevented an immediate v o t e on t h e i s s u e , 481 t h e d e b a t e and v o t e d i d n o t occur u n t i l November 8 , g i v i n g however, b o t h proponents and opponents of t h e Wylie b i l l time t o mount i n t e n s i v e l o b b y i n g and g r a s s - r o o t s campaigns. On November 8 t h e House e a s i l y adopted t h e p e t i t i o n t o d i s c h a r g e t h e J u d i c i a r y Committee from f u r t h e r c o n s i d e r a t i o n of H.J. Res. 191, 242-157. A f t e r lengthy debate the House t h e n adopted by v o i c e v o t e an amendment o f f e r e d by Rep. Buchanan (D-Ala.) s u b s t i t u t i n g t h e word " v o l u n t a r y " f o r "nondenominational" and adding " m e d i t a t i o n " a s a p e r m i s s i b l e a c t i v i t y - - a n amendment t h a t i t s s p o n s o r s thought would answer t h e primary arguments a g a i n s t t h e r e s o l u t i o n and would e l i m i n a t e t h e danger t h a t a S t a t e might p r e s c r i b e 481 The r u l e s r e q u i r e d t h a t a d i s c h a r g e p e t i t i o n , once t h e r e q u i s i t e number of s i g n a t u r e s had been o b t a i n e d , had t o w a i t seven d a y s b e f o r e b e i n g brought b e f o r e t h e House, and t h e n could be c o n s i d e r e d Coupled w i t h t h e House's o n l y on t h e second o r f o u r t h Monday of t h e month. h o l i d a y observance s c h e d u l e , t h e s e r e q u i r e m e n t s meant t h a t t h e b i l l could n o t be c o n s i d e r e d b e f o r e November 8.