Engel v. Vitale: Prayer in the Schools

By Susan Dudley Gold | Go to book overview

Four

A PRAYER GOES TO COURT

WHen THe HerrICKS SCHOOL BOarD received notice that the Long Island parents in the Engel case had filed a petition to remove the Regents' Prayer from New York schools, the board members voted to oppose the effort. Bertram Daiker, the board's attorney, would lead the fight. Daiker had represented the board on various issues and had experience in appeals cases.

The parents entrusted their case to ACLU attorney William Butler. A noted human rights lawyer, Butler had served as staff counsel to the ACLU and was a member of the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union, the local ACLU chapter. He had been prominent in the battle to protect the rights of citizens threatened during the [Red Scare] of the 1950s when Congress was intent on exposing supposed Communists and [fellow travelers]—those who merely sympathized with the Communists' goals.

Butler later recalled why he was chosen for the school prayer case: [When the case came up, they decided that the lawyer… must be Catholic, that is, someone taking the attitude that he is DEFENDING prayer and religious freedom, not attacking it. And they looked down at the end of the table and saw a nice Irish-Catholic boyWilliam Butler.] Stanley Geller, also an ACLU lawyer, assisted Butler in the case.

Another group of sixteen parents, led by Henry

-66-

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Engel v. Vitale: Prayer in the Schools
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 2
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • One - The Regents' Prayer 12
  • Two - A Constitution and a Bill of Rights 18
  • Three - First Amendment on Trial 38
  • Four - A Prayer Goes to Court 66
  • Five - Before the Supreme Court 79
  • Six - A Landmark Desicion 98
  • Seven - Politics and Religion: A Potent Mix 125
  • Timeline 134
  • Notes 137
  • Further Information 146
  • Bibliography 150
  • Index 156
  • About the Author 160
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