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New Jersey Supreme Court Rules Against Prayers in State Schools

An effort by a local school board to by-pass the U.S. Supreme Court’s ban on school prayers was rebuffed yesterday by the State Supreme Court in a ruling with statewide effect.

The state law required reading of five verses of the Old Testament and allowed the reading, out loud, of the Lord’s Prayer. Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June, the school Board of Hawthorne passed a resolution ordering the Hawthorne school superintendent to permit the practices to continue.

The resolution was appealed by the state attorney general, Arthur J. Stiles, to the Superior Court which called the resolution unconstitutional. The Hawthorne board appealed to the State Supreme Court. The State High Court upheld the Superior Court ruling as “patently sound,” in a seven to nothing decision. Attorney General Stiles ruled immediately that the state law allowing such prayers was unconstitutional.