Wall of Separation
On November 17, 1980, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Stone v. Graham - a case involving the required posting of the Ten Commandments on the wall of every classroom in Kentucky.
*Dramatic Voice* Previously, on Blue Cereal Education…
I recently proffered a brief overview of the whole ‘Wall of Separation’ idea in American jurisprudence, then dove into a few early Supreme Court Cases involving religion and public schools.
Cases don’t just magically appear in the Supreme Court. Except in rare circumstances, they begin as local disputes, sometimes working their way up through District Courts. By the time a case comes before the highest court in the land, it’s often been going on in some form for several years.
After Everson v. Board of Education (1947), fifteen years passed before the next important ‘religion and public schools’ case made its way to the Supreme Court. Whereas Everson dealt with transportation, Engel v. Vitale (1962) addressed the role of the supernatural in the classroom itself.
Prior to the 14th Amendment, the protections offered by the Bill of Rights applied primarily to the Federal Government. While most States had similar protections in their own constitutions, these were inconsistent and locally interpreted.
The 14th Amendment changed all of that in ways neither immediate nor obvious. Passed in 1868 as part of the ‘Reconstruction Amendments,’ its initial intent was to guarantee full and equal citizenship for Freedmen – newly freed Black Americans.
It reads, in part: