Tags: School Prayer | school prayer | new mexico

Notable Lawsuits Over School Prayer in New Mexico

By    |   Thursday, 11 Jun 2015 12:29 PM

New Mexico, in addition to many other states, has struggled to find the appropriate balance between church and state with prayer in public schools.

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Although New Mexico has no specific state laws regarding prayer in public schools, New Mexico’s school systems do permit students to miss one class period of class instruction a day for prayer during school hours.

A 2000 Supreme Court Case, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, is a landmark lawsuit for school prayer in New Mexico.

Students on a Santa Fe high school football team led a prayer on the school’s public address system before football games.

Mormon and Catholic students filed a lawsuit, saying that the team-led prayer was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which forbids government funded institutions from establishing a religious affiliation.

The case initially went to the New Mexico District Court, which determined that the school’s current prayer policy that allowed students to elect a spokesperson to relay prayers at school events was not permissible.

The Court ordered the team to change the policy so that only nonsectarian and nonproselytizing prayers could be recited at school events.

However, the Fifth Circuit Court later declared that allowing any prayer at school-sponsored football games was not permissible.

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The case rose to the Supreme Court, which also determined that the football team’s prayer policy was a violation of the Establishment Clause. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote a dissent in which he said the decision “bristle[d] with hostility to all things religious in public life.”

More recently, Patrick Ashe’s daughter, high school student in Mora Independent School District in New Mexico, was allegedly told that she was not allowed to silently pray before her lunch.

“(She) came home from school and she said, ‘Dad I have something to tell you. Today for lunch right before I was going to eat, I bowed my head to pray, and the superintendent came up to me and said I couldn't do that,’” Ashe told KOAT ABC News in October 2014.

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New Mexico, in addition to many other states, has struggled to find the appropriate balance between church and state with prayer in public schools.
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2015-29-11
Thursday, 11 Jun 2015 12:29 PM
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