U. S. Supreme Court school district of abington township V. Schempp, 364 U. S. 298 (1960)




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U.S. Supreme Court

SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ABINGTON TOWNSHIP v. SCHEMPP, 364 U.S. 298 (1960)


364 U.S. 298

SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, PA., ET AL. v. SCHEMPP ET AL.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF
PENNSYLVANIA. No. 297.
Decided October 24, 1960.


Judgment vacated and case remanded.

Reported below: 177 F. Supp. 398.

C. Brewster Rhoads, Percival R. Rieder and Philip H. Ward III for appellants.

Anne X. Alpern, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, and John D. Killian III, Deputy Attorney General, for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as amicus curiae.

PER CURIAM.

The judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the District Court for such further proceedings as may be appropriate in light of Act No. 700 of the Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, passed at the Session of 1959 and approved by the Governor of the Commonwealth on December 17, 1959. [364 U.S. 298, 299]  





U.S. Supreme Court

ABINGTON SCHOOL DIST. v. SCHEMPP, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)


374 U.S. 203

SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL. v. SCHEMPP ET AL.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF
PENNSYLVANIA. No. 142.
Argued February 27-28, 1963.
Decided June 17, 1963. *  


[ Footnote * ] Together with No. 119, Murray et al. v. Curlett et al., Constituting the Board of School Commissioners of Baltimore City, on certiorari to the Court of Appeals of Maryland, argued February 27, 1963.

Because of the prohibition of the First Amendment against the enactment by Congress of any law "respecting an establishment of religion," which is made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, no state law or school board may require that passages from the Bible be read or that the Lord's Prayer be recited in the public schools of a State at the beginning of each school day - even if individual students may be excused from attending or participating in such exercises upon written request of their parents. Pp. 205-227.

201 F. Supp. 815, affirmed.

228 Md. 239, 179 A. 2d 698, reversed.

John D. Killian III, Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, and Philip H. Ward III argued the cause for appellants in No. 142. With them on the brief were David Stahl, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Percival R. Rieder and C. Brewster Rhoads.

Henry W. Sawyer III argued the cause for appellees in No. 142. With him on the brief was Wayland H. Elsbree.

Leonard J. Kerpelman argued the cause and filed a brief for petitioners in No. 119.

Francis B. Burch and George W. Baker, Jr. argued the cause for respondents in No. 119. With them on the brief were Nelson B. Seidman and Philip Z. Altfeld. [374 U.S. 203, 204]  

Thomas B. Finan, Attorney General of Maryland, argued the cause for the State of Maryland, as amicus curiae, urging affirmance in No. 119. With him on the brief were James P. Garland and Robert F. Sweeney, Assistant Attorneys General of Maryland. Richmond M. Flowers, Attorney General of Alabama, Robert Pickrell, Attorney General of Arizona, Bruce Bennett, Attorney General of Arkansas, Richard W. Ervin, Attorney General of Florida, Eugene Cook, Attorney General of Georgia, Allan G. Shepard, Attorney General of Idaho, William M. Ferguson, Attorney General of Kansas, Jack P. F. Gremillion, Attorney General of Louisiana, Frank E. Hancock, Attorney General of Maine, Joe T. Patterson, Attorney General of Mississippi, William Maynard, Attorney General of New Hampshire, Arthur J. Sills, Attorney General of New Jersey, Earl E. Hartley, Attorney General of New Mexico, Thomas Wade Bruton, Attorney General of North Carolina, J. Joseph Nugent, Attorney General of Rhode Island, Daniel R. McLeod, Attorney General of South Carolina, Frank R. Farrar, Attorney General of South Dakota, and George F. McCanless, Attorney General of Tennessee, joined in the brief on behalf of their respective States, as amici curiae.

Briefs of amici curiae, urging affirmance in No. 142 and reversal in No. 119, were filed by Morris B. Abram, Edwin J. Lukas, Burnett Roth, Arnold Forster, Paul Hartman, Theodore Leskes and Sol Rabkin for the American Jewish Committee et al.; by Leo Pfeffer, Lewis H. Weinstein, Albert Wald, Shad Polier, Samuel Lawrence Brennglass and Theodore R. Mann for the Synagogue Council of America et al.; and by Herbert A. Wolff, Leo Rosen, Morris L. Ernst and Nancy F. Wechsler for the American Ethical Union. [374 U.S. 203, 205]  

MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Once again we are called upon to consider the scope of the provision of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ." These companion cases present the issues in the context of state action requiring that schools begin each day with readings from the Bible. While raising the basic questions under slightly different factual situations, the cases permit of joint treatment. In light of the history of the First Amendment and of our cases interpreting and applying its requirements, we hold that the practices at issue and the laws requiring them are unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.
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