Doremus v. Board of Education 342 U.S. (1952)

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A New Jersey statute provided for the reading, without comment, of five verses of the Old Testament at the opening of each public school day. This was challenged as an establishment of religion by a taxpayer of the town of Hawthorne who had had a child in its school system.

Justice robert h. jackson, writing for the Supreme Court, rejected the standing of the plaintiff to raise the constitutional question. His child had been graduated from school, so that his claim as a parent suffered from mootness. Furthermore, because there was no showing that public money was spent on the practice, the plaintiff's taxpayer status gave him no stake in the litigation.

Justice william o. douglas, with whom Justices stanley f. reed and harold burton agreed, dissented. A taxpayer, Douglas argued, had a general interest in how the schools of the community were managed. The effect of this disposition was to defer for a decade decision on the constitutional merits of religious exercises in public schools.

Richard E. Morgan

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Doremus v. Board of Education 342 U.S. (1952)

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