Friday, November 15, 2013

Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe case brief

Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe case brief summary
530 U.S. 290 (2000)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioner school district sought a writ of certiorari, appealing from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit's affirmance with modification of the trial court's decision enjoining petitioner's policy of student led prayer prior to a football game in respondent students' action alleging the policy violated the Establishment Clause of U.S. Constitutional amendment I.

CASE FACTS
Respondent students brought an action against petitioner school district alleging violation of the Establishment Clause of U.S. Constitutional amendment I (Establishment Clause) for petitioner's policy of student led prayer prior to school football games. The trial court enjoined petitioner from implementing the policy as it stood, but permitted a modified policy. Both parties appealed. The appellate court affirmed, with modifications, holding that both policies violated the Establishment Clause. Petitioner petitioned for a writ of certiorari, claiming its policy did not violate the Establishment Clause because the football game messages were private student speech, not public speech.

DISCUSSION

  • The Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court properly determined that petitioner's policies violated the Establishment Clause because: 
  • (1) the football game messages were public speech authorized by a government policy; and 
  • (2) taking place on government property at government-sponsored school-related events, and; 
  • (3) because the realities of petitioner's policy involved both perceived and actual government endorsement of the delivery of prayer at important school events.

CONCLUSION

Judgment affirmed because student led prayer prior to school football games was public speech, authorized by a government policy, taking place on government property at government-sponsored school-related events and petitioner school district's policy allowing such public speech violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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