The Supreme Court declared that public schools could not conduct prayer exercises at graduation ceremonies.
Graduation ceremonies at a high school in Providence, Rhode Island, were voluntary. When inviting local clergy to offer nonsectarian invocations and benedictions, the principal would give them guidelines suggesting the use of “inclusiveness and sensitivity.” The principal took care to invite a diversity of local clergy Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and others if available. Daniel Weisman, the father of two students, asked for a court order prohibiting the practice. In response, a federal appellate court ruled that the ceremony constituted an “advancement of religion” without a secular purpose, which was contrary to Lemon v. Kurtzman
By a 5-4 vote, the Court upheld the lower court’s judgment. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
Agostini v. Felton
Lemon v. Kurtzman
Religion, establishment of