NEW YORK (Nov. 4)
The National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA) which takes up the cudgels of Orthodox Jews in areas of alleged discrimination in employment stemming from their religious practices, announced today that it has filed legal briefs with the United States Supreme Court in support of Federal and state aid to parochial schools. It also filed briefs in two other cases, one involving the rights of Sabbath observers and the other supporting the right of an employee to wear a beard out of religious convictions. According to COLPA president Julius Berman, the briefs filed with the Supreme Court are in opposition to groups in Pennsylvania and Connecticut which are challenging the constitutionality of laws providing aid to non-public schools. The Pennsylvania case arose after the enactment of a state law that authorizes financial support for the secular education programs of parochial schools. In the Connecticut case, the challenge is to the Federal Higher Education Act that includes support for sectarian colleges, Mr. Berman said.
Many civil libertarian groups including a number of major Jewish organizations, have been fighting government aid to parochial schools on the grounds that it violates the principle of separation of state and church. COLPA argues on the other hand that denial of such aid “is simply to discriminate against those whose religious convictions require them to provide a rigorous program of religious training for their children.” “Orthodox Jews and Roman Catholics have been the most vociferous proponents of government aid to parochial schools. Mr. Berman said that COLPA’s brief argues that “financial assistance is of critical importance to the approximately 400 Jewish day schools in the United States which, in an age of soaring educational costs, can no longer realistically rely on the voluntary contributions of their supporters.” According to Mr. Berman, the Supreme Court’s decision will determine for a decade or more whether the federal and state governments can continue their present trend of increased assistance to parochial school secular education.”