This article analyzes the constitutionality of student-sponsored graduation prayers in light of the Supreme Court's evolving interpretation of the Establishment Clause's requirement of state neutrality in public schools. Part II examines the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, focusing on the Court's strict application of the Establishment Clause's neutrality requirement to public schools. Part III attempts to define "neutrality" as demanded by the Establishment Clause by examining the Court's application of the term in the public school context. This part argues that the Court has demanded a "substantive" neutrality in public schools as opposed to a "formal" neutrality. Such a formal model of neutrality would require only that the state enact neutral procedures, forbidding practices that risk infusing religiosity into mandatory school events but permitting religion in public schools where school officials do not compel students to hear the potentially unwanted religious messages. Part IV examines Lee v. Weisman's extension of the principles of substantive neutrality to school events unrelated to the classroom. Part V discusses student-sponsored prayers in light of the Court's interpretation of the Establishment Clause. This part analyzes Harris and Jones and argues that schools must guarantee that students do not employ otherwise facially neutral procedures to impose religious messages at graduation. The article concludes that because graduations are school-sponsored events, bearing "the imprimatur" of the state, the school must safeguard the rights of dissident students regarding graduation prayers.
Jonathan C. Drimmer,
Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil: The Duty of Public Schools to Limit Student-Proposed Graduation Prayers,
74 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol74/iss3/2