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Seek Court Ruling on Use of Public School Grounds for Religious Displays

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The way was paved for a high court ruling on the question of religious symbols on public school property when ten residents of the town of Ossining asked the Supreme Court here for an injunction preventing erection of a creche depicting the birth of Christ on the lawn of Ossining High School.

The ten applicants, who were represented by Leo Pfeffer of the American Jewish Congress, included Roman Catholics and Protestants as well as Jews. They named as defendants the Ossining Board of Education and a 15-member citizens committee headed by Mayor Jesse A. Collyer Jr., which is sponsor in the creche. The complainants charged that the display would violate the Federal and State constitutional provisions for separation of Church and State.

Last year, a creche was displayed on the school lawn, despite strong opposition, the Board authorizing the action by a 4-3 vote. This year, the complainants charged, the Board again authorized the action by the same vote although five alternative and equally prominent sites had been offered for the display.

Attorneys for both sides agreed that the specific question of the use of school grounds for the display of religious scenes had never been decided by the courts. They agreed, in conference with Justice Frank H. Coyne, to postpone the motion for an injunction until December 20, not to install the creche meanwhile, and to continue the suit by appeals through the highest courts to obtain a definitive ruling.

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