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October 16, 1987 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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40

FRIDAY, OCT. 16, 1987

N EIS

Court Hears
Silence Case

Washington (JTA) —The
Supreme Court heard argu-
ments last week on whether
a 1982 New Jersey law re-
quiring a minute of silence in
public schools "for private
contemplation and introspec-
tion" violated the First
Amendment prohibition on
the establishment of religion.
The case, Karcher v. May, is
an appeal of a decision by the
Third U.S. Court of Appeals
upholding a 1985 decision by
the Federal District Court in
New Jersey that the law was
unconstitutional.
Norman Cantor, a Trenton,
New Jersey, lawyer, repre-
senting Jeffrey May, a New
Jersey teacher, who along
with several parents and stu-
dents challenged the law,
argued that discussion in the
New Jersey Legislature dur-
ing the debate on the bill
demonstrated that supporters
wanted the legislation as a
way to foster prayer in the
classrooms.
Cantor said teachers could
use the minute of silence to
influence students to pray,
particularly in the lower
grades where pupils would
not understand the meaning
of "contemplation and in-
trospection."
But Rex Lee, representing
Alan Karcher, former speaker
of the New Jersey Assembly,
said the minute of silence was
a "legitimate secular" act
designed to quiet down
students as the school day
began.
While the Supreme Court
in 1985 ruled unconstitu-
tional an Alabama law pro-
viding for a minute of silence
for "mediation and voluntary
prayer," the Court may decide
the latest case on the techni-
cal grounds that Karcher did
not have the "standing" to
file the appeal.
The Reagan Administration
has filed a brief declaring
that while it believes the law
is constitutional, the appeal
should be dismissed because
Karcher has no jurisdiction.

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661-1000.

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