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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.

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Law Databases


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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