Case Name: School District of Abington Township v. Schempp Year Case Decided by Supreme Court: 1963 ? Facts that triggered the dispute: Ellery Schempp in protest of his school’s policy which required reading from the bible daily, chose on his day of reading to read from the Koran rather than the KJV Bible, this led to his suspension from school. Ellery’s parents Edward and Sidney Schempp then sought assistance from the ACLU.
Statute: The Schempp family contends that the Pennsylvania law that mandates ten verses of the bible be read daily at the beginning of the school day is unconstitutional. Provision of the Constitution: The Schempp family argues that the Pennsylvania law violates the establishment clause of the constitution. Legal Question: Is the requirement of daily bible readings in a public school an act of religious devotion, thus violating the Establishment Clause of the constitution? ? Outcome: In an 8-1 decision the court ruled in favor of Schempp. ? Legal Reasoning of the Majority: In delivering the opinion of the Court, Justice Clark held that: ?a. The court argues that using prayer as an”opening exercise” is a state sanctioned religious ceremony.
b. Clark further disagrees with the township’sassertion that the reading of the bible and Lord’s prayer were done in asecular way. Rather, he agrees with the trial court, so ruled that the actswere religious by their very nature. c. With the idea in mind that the acts themselveswere religious as well as mandated by law, then it becomes clear that thestatute is in violation of the Establishment clause. However, he was not sayingthat the bible couldn’t be studied in a secular way, rather he says it could beand the Supreme Court would have no ability to stop that from occurring. d. Clark dismissed the appellant’s notion that thelaw was constitutional because parental waivers were available to students,Clark argues that the ability of parents to remove specific children did not shieldthe law from questions of constitutionality.
e. Not only was the Establishment clause meant tostop the sponsoring of a particular religion, but it was meant to stop the sponsorshipof religion generally. Legal Doctrine: Affirmed the position that state sponsored prayer was in direct violation of the Establishment Clause.
?10. Other points of View: Justice Douglas held the concurringopinion:a. The Establishment clauses precludes the statefrom being able to use funding or power to give religious institutions power,this includes schools promoting religious rhetoric. b.
Argues that this law is a “mechanism of thestate” for promoting a particular religious affiliation that not everyonesubscribes to. Justice Brennan held the concurringopinion:a. Clarifies that while he agrees with the decisionof the court, it is important to note that not all intermingling of the public andreligion is unconstitutional. Justice Goldberg, Joined by JusticeHarlan, held the concurring opinion:a.
The fact that they have chosen a specific prayeror “devotional liturgy” is without constitutional grounds.b. You can’t make accommodations to get aroundprayer in school rules. As long as children’s attendance at school is mandatoryschool prayer will be subject to the Establishment clause of the constitution.Justice Stewart held the dissentingopinion:a.
The case boils down to whether or not there isevidence of coercion directed towards the students. Stewart argues that thereis no evidence to suggest that there is, or that there would be punishment forthe students who chose to exercise their right not to participate. b.
Argues that Schempp is merely presenting a “prophecy”of what would happen if a student made a request to be excused.