NEW YORK (Dec. 19)
The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision yesterday not to hear a government appeal against a lower court’s ruling banning compulsory chapel attendance at the nation’s three service academies, was hailed by the American Jewish Congress today as “a significant victory for the country’s vital traditions of religious freedom and church – state separation.”
The AJ Congress, together with 12 other organizations comprising the joint Advisory Committee of the Synagogue Council of America and the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Laird v. Anderson in Nov., 1970, when the case came before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.
The Circuit Court ruled last June that the requirement of weekly attendance at Protestant, Catholic or Jewish services by cadets at West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy violated the First Amendment’s ban on government “establishment of religion.”
Leo Pfeffer, the special counsel of the AJCongress who wrote the amicus brief for the 13 Jewish organizations, said today that the Supreme Court’s ruling was “consistent with the American tradition against compulsory church attendance, one of the practices of Establishment that the First Amendment was written to forbid.”