On June 19, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld, by a 6-3 vote, a decision of the Fifth Circuit striking down a policy allowing student-led prayer at high school football games.
The decision reaffirmed earlier decisions prohibiting school-sponsored religious activities, finding that the seemingly “private” nature of the speaker was not determinative. Rather, the court will examine the text of a policy to see if it encourages prayer and the extent of school sponsorship and control over the event in which the activity takes place.
Finally, the court also held that students would likely feel peer and community pressure to participate in prayer taking place at such school-sponsored events. Justices Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas dissented.
AU advised counsel during the case and joined in an amicus brief that was submitted to the Supreme Court on February 2, 2000.