Four lawyers clashed last night over the Supreme Court decisions barring prayer and Bible-reading in public schools. Speaking before the Law School Forum, two practicing attorneys vehemently argued about the decisions, while two Harvard Law professors voiced more moderate views.
Ward Attacks Decision
Attacking the decision in Abington School District v. Shempp, Phillip H. Ward III denied that the reading of the Bible in Abington High School constituted a religious ceremony. Ward, who represented the school district in the case, said Biblical verses were simply "daily reminders from a great source of morality."
Ward said the Court's ruling "opens the Pandora's box for litigation by those who want to drive out of public any mention of the Almighty."
Paul A. Freund, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, countered Ward's statement. "To say that the decision drives God out of the schoolrooms is to denigrate the Almighty," he declared. He also denied that the Bible was the best source of moral education.
Howe Agrees With Fround
Fround said that the prayer cases had been overblown in popular understanding. What was actualy' decided is much less absolute than is commonly supposed, he said.
Although agreeing with Fround that the cases had been exaggerated, Mark de Wolfe Howe '28, professor of Law, charge that the Supreme Court had "led the nation astray" by basing its opinion on the Constitutional clause barring the establishment of religion. "At the heart of the problem is the question of religious liberty, not establishment," he said.
Should Aid B.C.
The United States has always had de facto religion, despite any court rulings, Howe said. Criticizing the "doctrinaire" attitude that government aid to religion is unconstitutional, he said he saw no reason that the government should not aid Boston College just as it did Harvard.
William J. Butler, who represented the plaintiffs in Engel v. Vitale, attacked Howe's argument. It is the "very nature" of the first amendment that religion should be discriminated against, he said. Religion is not entitled to the support and power of the state, he added. In Engel v. Vitale, the Supreme Court ruled that the reciting of a state-composed nonsectarian prayer in the New York Schools was unconstitutional.
Butler said Christmas programs in public schools were also unconstitutional because they were "religious ceremonies."