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Engel v. Vitale (1962)

New York’s requirement of a state-composed “Regents’ Prayer” to begin the school day was declared an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. Hugo Black wrote the majority opinion, asserting, “There can be no doubt that New York’s state prayer program officially establishes the religious beliefs embodied in the Regents’ prayer.” Black cited Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom as a document reflecting the Founders’ view about religious freedom in America.

This case touched on constitutional principles including liberty, and civic values including respect and equality.