Sunday, February 12, 2017

Moment of Silence - Bown v. Gwinnett County School District (1997) / Brown v. Gilmore (2001) | Blue Cereal Education

Moment of Silence - Bown v. Gwinnett County School District (1997) / Brown v. Gilmore (2001) | Blue Cereal Education:

Moment of Silence - Bown v. Gwinnett County School District (1997) / Brown v. Gilmore (2001)

Moment of Silence

Two cases in the early 1960s largely eliminated state-sponsored prayer from public schooling. Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington v. Schempp (1963) are to this day touted by the far right as responsible for having kicked God out of schools – leading inevitably to sex, drugs, violence, rock’n’roll, corduroy, divorce, the pill, AIDS, the Clintons, terrorism, and a Kenyan sleeper-cell Mooslim illegitimately seizing the White House for eight long, painful years. 
The solution, of course, is to get God back IN our schools by requiring regimented recitation of state-approved chants. He LOVES those! Do this, we are assured, and America’s problems will vanish faster than you can say “civil liberties!” 
Alabama led the way in the 1980s with a series of legislation which eventually led to Wallace v. Jaffree (1985), the only “Moment of Silence” case to reach the Supreme Court to date. The Court determined that the state could mandate a “moment of silence” during the school day, but could not lead or even encourage prayer during that time. 
The goals of Alabama’s legislation were no secret – state legislators ran on promises to get prayer back into schools, or as close as they could get it. That’s largely what stifled further establishment in Alabama – the Court refused to pretend the history and rhetoric associated with legislation didn’t exist while considering its constitutionality. 
Legislative leaders in other states took note and began exercising greater caution as they argued for moments of silence of their own. Suddenly this 60-second period would promote non-violence and academic reflection and gluten-free living and all sorts of things. 
A decade after Wallace, Georgia passed its own version of a “moment of silence.” It was challenged by a classroom teacher and ended up in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals as Bown v. Gwinnett County School District (1997). The Court determined that the Moment of Quiet Reflection in Schools Act did NOT violate the Establishment Clause. 
The Court’s written opinion is unremarkable, but includes some details of note, such as this bit from what they call the Act’s “uncodified preamble”:
The General Assembly finds that in today's hectic society, all too few of our citizens are able to experience even a moment of quiet reflection before plunging headlong into the day's activities. Our young citizens are particularly affected by this absence of an opportunity for a moment of quiet reflection. The General Assembly finds that our young, and society as a whole, would be well served if students were afforded a moment of quiet reflection at the beginning of each day in the public schools.
It's an absurd bit of glossy nonsense, but it’s constitutional nonsense. We could all probably benefit from drinking more water as well, but I notice no one’s mandating a moment of refreshing hydration each morning. But whatever.  
Also in the ‘History of the Case’:
Senator David Scott, the primary sponsor of the Act… represented an urban district in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the Chairman of the Senate 
Moment of Silence - Bown v. Gwinnett County School District (1997) / Brown v. Gilmore (2001) | Blue Cereal Education:


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