Lawyers, the Public, and the Origins of America’s Culture Wars

Haley Cook, University at Albany, State University of New York


In 1962 and 1963, the United States Supreme Court attempted to untangle religion . The Court decisions did not sit well with many Americans who feared subversion and juvenile delinquency as a result of mandatory school prayer and Bible reading being declared unconstitutional. This paper will argue that there was a mixed public reaction to Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington v. Schempp (1963). This paper will look at the mixed reactions of everyday Americans to examine the mid-twentieth century intersections of anti-Communist fear, the rise of Evangelical Christianity, and the fear of juvenile delinquency. It will do so by examining the legal culture’s attitudes toward school and religion.