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Published: 09-11-2019

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Lee V. Weisman

In Lee v. Weismen the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for a public school in Rhode Island to have a member of the clergy provide a prayer at graduation ceremonies. In 1989 Robert E. Lee, principal of Nathan Bishop Middle College, invited a rabbi to provide the prayers at their graduation ceremony. He was offered with the pamphlet “Guidelines for Civic Occasions” and advised that the prayers should be nonsectarian. Daniel Weisman, a parent of a student at the college, objected to the inclusion of prayers at the ceremony and sought a short-term restraining order. His request was denied, and the rabbi delivered the invocation and benediction, which had two references to “God” and 1 to “Lord”.

Daniel Weisman expressed, for the duration of an interview on C-Span, that he was not only offended, but accosted by the prayer. He stated that as a Jew it is prohibited to participate in a ritual of an additional religion, but he and his daughter had been forced to do so.

Subsequently, Weisman sought a permanent injunction barring Lee and other petitioners from inviting clergy to deliver invocations and benedictions at future graduations. A federal district court identified the prayers unconstitutional below the so-referred to as Lemon test, which the U.S. Supreme Court had outlined in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971). The lemon test is a 3 component test that states a law have to be secular in goal, its principal goal cannot endorse or inhibit religion, and that it cannot foster “excessive entanglement” among the state and religious institutions (Lemon v. Kurtzman, p612).When the Court of Appeals affirmed a District Court ruling against the schools, Lee appealed to the Supreme Court and was granted certiorari. (https://www.oyez.org/instances/1991/90-1014) The situation examined by the Supreme Court in this case was whether or not a school sponsored prayer at a graduation constitutes a violation of the Establishment Clause in the Very first Amendment.

In the end, they found in favor of the Weisman household. The Supreme Court utilized the precedent that a college sponsored prayer at college events has the effect of “endorsing” religion and is consequently unconstitutional. It violates the establishment clause because the college is essentially favoring one particular religion over the other folks. This violates part two of the lemon test is failed. Another concern is that the college informed parents that graduation was optional therefore listening to the prayer was optional. The Supreme Court noted that graduation was a rite of passage and that students and families shouldn’t have to decide on among not attending their graduation and conforming to “the state-supported practice.” The choice of the Initial Circuit was upheld in a 5 to 4 Supreme Court choice.

As an administrator, religion is such a slippery slope since it evokes such an emotional public response. In this case, it was common practice for clergy to execute prayers at graduation ceremonies. The principal was only following in the footsteps of these who held the workplace ahead of him. Prior to this decision, prayer was essentially getting forced upon students.

Till an situation is brought to the forefront and argued against, it can not be regarded as unconstitutional. If it had been not for Daniel Weisman and his daughter, we may well nonetheless be praying at graduations, football games, and other school-primarily based functions. Personally, I think religion has no location in schools. I think if you want to pay respect to a greater energy during a graduation ceremony or any other school events, suggest a moment of silence. In that moment, students and parents are capable to respectfully pray to whomever they make a decision. I’m virtually particular Principal Lee couldn’t foresee an issue of such magnitude arising when initially arranging their middle college graduation. As an administrator dealing with something that has to do with religion, it’s very best to seek legal suggestions to shield the rights of the students and defend the school from undue legal turmoil.
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