Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva UniversityStephen Solomons Ellerys Protest provides a brilliant analysis of a major Supreme Court decision that redefined the relationship between church and state almost a half century ago.
This study goes well beyond simply offering a gripping account of the course of litigation that brought before the Justices the contentious issue of prayer and Bible reading in public schools, though the thoroughness of that account would merit careful reading by itself.
Finally, and perhaps most impressive, is Solomons careful placement of the issue and the case in a far broader context that is as critical to national life and policy today as it was four and a half decades ago when the high Court first tackled these questions.Robert ONeil, Professor of Law, University of VirginiaGreat legal decisions often result from the heroic actions of average citizens.
Ellerys Protest is the story of how one students objection to mandatory school prayer and Bible reading led to one of the most controversial court cases of the twentieth centuryand a decision that still reverberates in the battle over the role of religion in public life.Abington School District v.
Schempp began its journey through the nations courts in 1956, when sixteen-year-old Ellery Schempp protested his public schools compulsory prayer and Bible-reading period by reading silently from the Koran.
The Supreme Courts decision in his favor was one of the most important rulings on religious freedom in our nations history.
But Schempp was not the only case challenging religious exercises in the schools at the time, and Ellerys Protest describes the race to the Supreme Court among the attorneys for four such cases, including one involving the colorful atheist Madalyn Murray.Solomon also explores the political, cultural, and religious roots of the controversy.
Ellerys Protest offers a vivid account of the case that embodied this change, and a reminder that conservative justices of the 1950s and 60s not only signed on to the Schempp decision, but strongly endorsed the separation of church and state.