☰ menu

SCHOOL PRAYER AND WALLACE v. JAFFREE (1984)

The ruling in Wallace v. Jaffree determined that a state-authorized period of silence for "voluntary prayer" in Alabama public classrooms violated the Establishment Clause. In a 6-3 decision, the Court struck down Alabama's moment of silence law permitting voluntary prayer, but gave its blessing to moment of silence laws not motivated by religion.

Read more about this case

Law Databases

FindLaw

FindLaw's Cases and Codes section contains provisions of state and federal law. It also contains a record of state and federal case law for trial and appellate courts. The site looks at the arguments made in Wallace v. Jaffree. It includes the full text of the court's opinion, concurrences, and dissents and a record of various filings and motions leading to the outcome of the case.

Click here.

Oyez

Oyez.com provides a variety of resources related to Wallace v. Jaffree, including links to case text, audio recordings, and references. It also provides a high-level overview of the central issue addressed by the case and the court's holding along with a visual depiction of how the individual justices sided both by seniority and ideology.

Click here.

Archival Resources

Library of Congress

A hard copy of the opinion can be found in U.S. Reports Volume 472. The Library of Congress has a PDF from one of these reporters.

Click here.

New York Times Archives

This digitized version of an archived article from December 5, 1984 details the case and the discussion of school prayer in the United States at the time. Viewers can see both a transcript of the article and how it originally appeared in the physical edition of the paper.

Click here.

Online Reference Resources

Encyclopedia of Alabama

Well-researched with helpful bibliographies, each Encyclopedia of Alabama entry is an effective jumping-off point for getting the facts of the case. Entries range from landmark court cases to influential jurists and legislators. The Encyclopedia aids in contextualizing Wallace v. Jaffree as part of Alabama history and provides implications of the decision for the state's future.

Click here.

Exploring Constitutional Conflicts

This site explores issues and controversies that surround the Constitution of the United States. Each entry includes a list of relevant SCOTUS cases as well as open-ended discussion questions.

Click here.

MTSU First Amendment Encyclopedia

Published by Middle Tennessee State University, the First Amendment Encyclopedia houses more than 1,500 articles on First Amendment topics, court cases, and history. In addition to highlighting the important issues in Wallace v. Jaffree, the Encyclopedia does a good job of explaining competing views to the majority's opinion in Rehnquist's dissent.

Click here.

Religious Freedom Center

The Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute is a nonpartisan national initiative focused on educating the public about the religious liberty principles of the First Amendment. Its website includes a high-level discussions on the subject of religion in public schools.

Click here.

Visit an Alabama Museum!

Alabama Department of Archives and History

http://www.archives.state.al.us

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

https://www.bcri.org

Vulcan Park and Museum

http://visitvulcan.com