Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39; 101 S. Ct. 690; 66 L. Ed. 2d 199 (1980)

Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39; 101 S. Ct. 690; 66 L. Ed. 2d 199 (1980)

Facts—A Kentucky statute required that a copy of the Ten Commandments be posted on the wall of each public school classroom in the state. The copies were to be purchased by private contributors.

Question—Does the Kentucky statute requiring posting of the Ten Commandments in school classrooms violate the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment?


ReasonsPer Curiam (5–4). This Court has already announced a three-part test for determining whether a challenged state statute is permissible under the First Amendment: “First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion . . . ; finally, the statute must not foster ‘an excessive government entanglement with religion.’ If a statute violates any of these three principles, it must be struck down under the establishment clause. The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature. The Ten Commandments is undeniably a sacred text . . .

and no legislative recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact.

It does not matter that the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are financed by voluntary private contributions for the mere posting of the copies under the auspices of the legislature provides the ‘official support of the state . . . Government’ that the establishment clause prohibits.”

J. Rehnquist, dissenting, stressed that posting the Ten Commandments could be justified as serving a secular legislative purpose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Law Faculty
error: Content is protected !!