Volume 1, Number 1, August 1998

Supreme Court News

Minnesota School Victory

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a Minnesota school district's operation of a school that serves the needs of a conservative Brethren religious sect. The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union had challenged the school as a violation of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

"It's a pretty significant decision... It basically allows religious groups to go into a [Minnesota] school district and establish a separate school, perhaps as a charter school. They can't set up a religious school, but they can have a school that chooses good curriculum and gets back to more traditional academic programs."
Tom Prichard, President,
Minnesota Family Council

According to attorney Erick Kaardal, "The decision means that any group of [Minnesotan] parents can petition for a separate public school, be it a district-run public school or a parent and teacher-run charter school, and as long as the school district agrees it can be a constitutional school. It frees a group of parents from any church, synagogue or mosque to petition their school district for a secularly financed charter school that has curriculum more to their liking."

Discrimination Against Religious Worship Services

The U.S. Court let stand a decision allowing a New York City public school to refuse to rent its facilities to a church.

The case involved the Bronx Household of Faith, which sought permission to rent the Anne Cross Mersereau Middle School for Sunday morning worship.

School policy and state law forbids religious worship services in public schools.

Public school facilities may be rented by secular groups. Religious groups wishing to hold worship services are singled out for exclusion.

The case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Court Rejects Gov. James School Prayer Argument

The U.S. Supreme Court turned away an appeal by Alabama Gov. Fob James that slows down his battle for student-led prayers in his state's public schools.

The justices, without comment, rejected James' attack against a federal judge's order that limited religious practices in DeKalb County, Ala., schools. Gov. James is simultaneously challenging it in a federal appeals court.

"Freedom of religion is disappearing in America," Gov. James argued in an appeal filed by his son, Forrest H. James III. "Because of this court, a few people claiming freedom from religion can silence others in public places such as schools."