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Marshall Denies Right To Worship Marijuana In Mock Court Case


Thurgood Marshall, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, turned down yesterday an opportunity to make a landmark decision towards the legalization of marijuana.

Though the prosecution won largely on a "technicality," there is little immediate hope for Cambridge pot-heads-the decision was awarded in the 58th annual Ames Competition, a moot court contest between third-year Law students conducted by the Harvard Law School.

Marshall was joined in the final decision by Justice Carl McGowen, U. S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, and Judge Alfred H. Joslin, of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island.

Unanimous Decision

They awarded their decision unanimously to the "respondents" from the Learned Hand Club, James J. Foster and John M. Payne.

The student prosecutors challenged the defense contention that "The New Brotherhood of Man," a four-year-old cult whose single sacrament was not-smoking, really constituted "a 'religion' in the traditional sense." They argued that the "defendant," therefore, was not entitled to religious immunity under the First Amendment.

The "petitioners," however, Pipp Marshall Boyls and Thomas H. Stanton of the Bevins Law Club, charged that this "skepticism" was not sufficient to repudiate their client's "sincere exercise." and answered Marshall's claim that acquittal might inevitably lead to "The New Brotherhood of the Poppy."

"A lot of people might turn sincere overnight," Marshall said, musing on the probability of religious revival in America. He joked about pot "licenses" for marijuana acolytes and asked whether the Brotherhood's "temples." like churches, should be tax-exempt.

Courtroom Jammed

But, afterwards, Marshall refused to relate the evening's decision to his personal policy towards pot.

An overflow crowd, 800 potential drug-users, jammed into the Ames Courtroom to hear the moot case. The clubs' faculty sponsors, Livingston Hall. Roscoe Pound Professor of Law, and Wesley E. Bevins Jr. 48, asst, dean of the Law School, agreed that they had never seen the Court and the participants so involved in a moot contest before.

Founded in 1911 through a bequest from the late Dean James Barr Ames, the Competition subjects members of the law clubs to three complex rounds of appellate brief writing and oral advocacy. Participation in the upper rounds of the Ames Competition is regarded as one of the highest honors at the School.

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