NEW YORK (Oct. 10)
The American Jewish Congress hailed a Supreme Court ruling today against reimbursement to parents of non-public school children as a “victory for religious freedom and the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.” Theodore Mann of Philadelphia, co-chairman of the AJ Congress’ National Governing Council, commenting on the court action upholding a lower court’s decision to invalidate a 1971 Ohio parochiad statute, expressed hope that the ruling would end efforts “to use public funds to maintain religious schools.”
He said the Ohio case “differs in no significant way from the tax credit plan to aid sectarian schools now being given wide publicity. Both have the same purpose and effect.” Mann said the court’s decision emphasized the need for the Jewish community to support Jewish education. Only in that way will they retain the freedom under which they have thrived in this country,” he said.
Mann, who is vice-chairman of the AJ Congress’ Commission on Law, Social Action and Urban Affairs, said the Ohio statute struck down today was designed specifically to “get around” the 8-1 decision of the US Supreme Court of June 28, 1971 invalidating parochiad statutes in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Leo Pfeffer, counsel for the AJ Congress who argued one of the two 1971 cases, was a sponsor of the Ohio suit, Wolman v. Essex. The Ohio statute provided reimbursement to parents of non-public school children for expenses up to $90 incurred in educating each child attending a non-public school. It was unanimously condemned by a three-judge court last April as violating the First Amendment. A three-judge federal court in New York last week struck down a similar provision in New York State that would have provided tuition grants to parents of non-public school children.