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Ajcongress Warns Court Ruling on Parochial Aid May Influence Pending Cases

The recent Supreme Court ruling prohibiting state aid to sectarian schools is likely to influence the outcome of 27 among 60 cases on religious freedom and separation of church and state currently awaiting decision in state and federal courts, a national survey by the American Jewish Congress revealed last night. In a statement accompanying release of the findings, Joseph B. Robison, general counsel of the AJCongress and director of its Commission on Law and Social Action, declared that in the nearly two months that have elapsed since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the parochial cases, “proponents of government aid for church-affiliated elementary and high schools have not reduced either the level of their demands or the vigor with which they have pressed for them. They have insisted that ways can and must be found to get around the court’s decision.”

Of the 27 aid-to-sectarian-school cases in the Docket, seven arose under the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and one under the Federal Higher Educational Facilities Act of 1963. The remaining 19 concern various programs of state aid, as does the new suit in New York, filed July 20 by the Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty (PEARL). Twenty cases covered in the docket concern other instances of governmental establishment or support of religion. Of these: ten cases involve religious practices in or through public facilities; three challenge city, state and federal tax exemptions for religious institutions; three concern state abortion laws in which religious issues have been raised: three concern the availability of sterilization procedures; and one case challenges the channeling of income from public lands into church treasuries. The remaining 13 active cases in the Docket challenge government interference with the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

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