WALLACE v. JAFFREE, 472 U.S. 38 (1985)

(Prayer in School)

In proceedings instituted in Federal District Court, appellees challenged the constitutionality of, inter alia, a 1981 Alabama Statute ( 16-1-20.1) authorizing a 1-minute period of silence in all public schools "for meditation or voluntary prayer." Although finding that 16-1-20.1 was an effort to encourage a religious activity, the District Court ultimately held that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment does not prohibit a State from establishing a religion. The Court of Appeals reversed. US Supreme Court affirmed the reversal, citing the statute as a violation of the first amendment. Chief Justice Rehnquist, and Justices White and Burger dissented. In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Rehnquist said, "It is impossible to build sound constitutional doctrine upon a mistaken understanding of constitutional history, but unfortunately the Establishment Clause has been expressly freighted with Jefferson's misleading metaphor [separation of church and state] for nearly 40 years."