WASHINGTON (Aug. 3)
The U.S. Government today asked for dismissal of a suit aimed at halting production of a special 1967 Christmas postage stamp depicting Hans Memling’s painting, “Madonna and Child With Angels.” The suit was brought by advocates of separation of church and state who told the U.S. District Court here that the stamp involves unconstitutional use of Federal money to advance a religious theme.
The Government, through the Department of Justice, disagreed. Opposing the injunction, Government attorneys said only half of the total stamps planned for distribution have been printed and that an injunction would prevent distribution in time for Christmas even if the Government eventually won the case. The Post Office has so far printed 650,000,000 of the controversial stamps. Sale was to commence on November 6.