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It is not my desire or intention to question the decision of our country's highest court, for to waive aside or to ignore such decisions would border anarchy.

Inasmuch as the decision has evoked vast correspondence from the people of my State, and I suppose from constituents of other Senators, it is my belief your subcommittee should provide opportunity for interested citizens to present their views in public hearings, in accordance with congressional custom and procedure.


Washington, D.C., November 15, 1962. Hon. JAMES EASTLAND, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I am very pleased to have the opportunity to submit a statement, to be included in the record of the hearings on the resolutions relating to prayers in public schools. My statement is attached. Sincerely yours,

STEVEN B. DEROUNIAN, Member of Congress.


SECOND DISTRICT, NEW YORK Mr. Chairman, the decision of the Supreme Court, on June 26 of this year, in ruling against the use of a simple, nondenominational prayer in the public schools of New York State, shocked the Nation.

To those of us who cannot accept this decision-and we are in the great majority—it has succeeded only in spreading confusion in its attempt to read into the first amendment of the Constitution a denial of the greatest single factor in the unparalleled progress of our country—the recognition of and our dependence upon a Supreme Being.

If we are to continue on the high moral plane that has distinguished this Nation and its people, the true meaning of the first amendment must be clarified beyond question.

Many proposals have been made by the Members of Congress and I have introduced House Joint Resolution 820, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States in order to authorize the several States to permit the offering of a prayer in public schools and other public places.

We cannot teach moral values to our children if we are forced to ignore our heritage. “It is fallacy”—and I quote “to suppose that by omitting a subject you teach nothing about it. On the contrary, you teach that it is to be omitted, and that it is therefore a matter of secondary importance. And you teach this, not openly and explicity, which would invite criticism ; you simply take it for granted and thereby insinuate it silently, insidously, and all but irresistibly.” I believe that to teach that prayer is to be omitted from our lives and is of secondary importance was exactly the intent of those who petitioned against the Board of Education of the Union Free School District of New Hyde Park, N.Y.-an area which I have represented-seeking to discontinue the use of the simple little prayer.

I challenge anyone to read into the prayer used in the schools of New York the establishment of any specific religion. In fact, in all that I have read since this decision, nowhere have I seen any denouncement of the words of the prayer by any religious body. For that matter, the Justices of the Supreme Court made no effort to show that the prayer actually did establish any specific religion. They simply could not have done so.

Throughout the honorable history of this Nation, every great soldier, citizen, and statesmen has publicly acknowledged his belief in God and at no time has such recognition ever imperiled the separation of church and state. Time and again our courts have ruled that the recital of a prayer is completely acceptable under our laws and within the meaning of the Constitution. But now, suddenly, and at a time when we are involved in a life struggle with atheistic communism, our Supreme Court shakes the very foundation of our Government. If we let this decision stand, we will be leading our country away from freedom and toward godlessness. I urge your careful consideration of this matter.



Mr. Chairman, I appear here today for the purpose of saying a few words in behalf of House Joint Resolution 765, introduced by me, providing for the free use of prayer in the public schools.

This resolution was required, Mr. Chairman, in consequence of the recent Supreme Court decision, outlawing the compulsory use of a nonpartisan prayer, in the State of New York.

As I see that decision, and as many persons see it, the Supreme Court has, in its defense of a minute minority, overstepped the rights of an overwhelming majority, by declaring against the invocation of God's will in the American public school classroom.

This cannot be borne, Mr. Chairman. The people will not have it. I, personally, have no doubt that when the Supreme Court enunciated the school prayer opinion of June 25, 1962, the several Justices acted in the hope of benefiting a minority, with no intention of harming anyone else, in any way. A miscalculation occurred, however. For the American people have come to attach great importance, over the years, to the presence of prayer in the classroom. To them, it represents a child's introduction to God, as much as does the entrance of a child into Sunday school. They—the masses of God-fearing American adults— have come to recognize the limited power of once-a-week religious exercises. They therefore believe in the necessity of prayer between church services; and who, after all, is better suited to lead such prayer than the schoolteachers of the land who have, traditionally, devoted their energies to efforts looking to the moral betterment of the younger generation.

House Joint Resolution 765 is aimed at returning to the schools a privilege long recognized and approved by public opinion. It is a resolution wholly in keeping with the spirit of American sentiment today, and the spirit of our forefathers, who also, in their time, had a good deal to say about religious freedom.


Washington, D.C., August 8, 1962. Senator JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Chairman, Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.O.

MY DEAR SENATOR: I deeply appreciate your kind invitation to appear before your committee in support of an amendment to the Constitution of the United States with regard to the offering of prayers in public schools and other public places.

Unfortunately, due to pressures here I was unable to appear personally. However, I do wish to submit a statement for the record, copy of which I am enclosing. Sincerely yours,

PAUL A. FINO, Member of Congress.

STATEMENT BY CONGRESSMAN PAUL A. FINO, REPUBLICAN, OF NEW YORK Mr. Chairman, I would like, at this time, to express my support for legislation now before your committee, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States with regard to the offering of prayers in the public schools and other public places. I have introduced House Joint Resolution 766 in the House to accomplish the same purpose.

What this amendment would do, in effect, would be to reverse the Supreme Court decision of June 25, 1962, outlawing the reading of a nonpartisan prayer in the public schools of the State of New York, and implicitly ruling out the schoolroom prayer as a feature of American life. A reversal in this regard is not only eminently proper, but absolutely necessary if we are not to stand ashamed in the eyes of the Western World—as the champion of religious liberty, who dared not speak out openly in behalf of religious principle.

It is my belief, Mr. Chairman, that the rise of this Nation to international prominence was the direct result of divine will, and I, therefore, have no doubt of an existing relationship between our prayers and our successes.

Under these circumstances, at a time in history when the need for American success is all the more pressing, it seems to me particularly disturbing that we should, as the result of an astonishing judicial interpretation, be denied the privilege of invoking the will of God in that crucial training area, the schoolroom.

In reading over the opinions handed down by several of the Supreme Court Justices, with respect to the decision of June 25, I can only conclude that the Court majority acted overconscientiously in behalf of minority rights. By so doing, the Court was, in fact, able to guarantee the rights of a small minority, who prefer to assume that there is no such thing as God or a divine will. This would have been perfectly proper in itself, except for a rather remarkable fact : that in the process of defending the rights of the minority, the Court saw fit to trample the rights of the majority. That is to say, the Court not only played to the prejudice of the smallest faction, but also took steps to see that the beliefs of the largest faction could not enjoy expression of any kind so far as schoolroom activity is concerned. This, to my way of thinking, is an inexcusable abridgement of the freedom of religion-an abridgement which must be done away with instantly, if we are to retain our respected position among the people of the free world, in which God is the recognized guiding force.

There have been many times in the past when the Supreme Court has moved to strike down a longstanding tradition of oppressive nature. All such Court decisions have won my approval on the grounds that no matter how long a tradition may stand, if it was wrong initially, it is wrong in the final analysis, even if it stands for centuries.

In this instance, however—in the matter of the school prayer—there was, until the Court decision was announced, no victim of oppression connected with the case. For certainly it is not oppressive to pray in the presence of a nonbeliever any more than it is oppressive for a nonbeliever to abstain from prayer while others are praying. Justice Black, in the Court's majority opinion, declares that when a teacher leads the class in prayer, the move can be regarded as coercive. On the other hand, is it not equally if not more coercive for a small group of nonbelievers to demand that the vast majority join them in abstaining from prayer? I hold that it is, and I further believe that in this regard I am supported by most Americans.

Far be it from me to assault the overall attitude of our highest Court. That is not my intention by any means. I merely wish to say that on this score this matter of the right to pray in a public school-I differ with the Court majority opinion in every essential detail and wholeheartedly concur in the minority opinion laid down by Justice Porter Stewart.

With this as my reasoning, I therefore endorse the proposals now the subject of these hearings, which if passed, would permit the continued practice of prayer in the public school classroom.


Washington, D.C., July 26, 1962.
Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Washington, D.C.

MY DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: In order to avoid burdening the members of your committee with testimony which is duplicated by that of other witnesses, I am submitting by letter, rather than by personal appearance, a statement of the considerations which lead me to conclude that the Congress should propose a constitutional amendment to clarify the issue decided by the Supreme Court in Engel v. Vitale.

I have introduced House Joint Resolution 795, an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, to permit the offering of prayer in public schools.

In considering whether the Congress should propose a constitutional amendment as a result of the decision in Engel v. Vitale, one need not discuss the question of whether the Court's interpretation of the establishment of religion clause in that case was right or wrong. As a lawyer, I find the reasoning of Justice Stewart in his dissenting opinion more persuasive than the contrary opinions of Justice Black or Justice Douglas.

There are two considerations which compel me to conclude that a constitutional amendment should be proposed.

First, the decision of the Supreme Court in Engel v. Vitale is in conflict with the wishes of the great majority of the American people. The preamble to the Constitution makes it clear that the document is the people's constitution, ordained and established by them. The great majority of the American people do not want the Constitution to bar the voluntary offering of nondenominational prayer in their schools.

Given the conflict between the Supreme Court and the people, I think it incumbent upon the Congress to permit the people to amend the Constitution through their elective representatives in State legislative bodies. The Congress does not have the constitutional authority to amend the Constitution. It can only propose an amendment for action by the States. I cannot believe the Congress should withhold from the people the right to amend the Constitution if they desire to do so.

A second important consideration is the fact that the decision of the Supreme Court in Engel v. Vitale has produced conflict and chaos in schools. Prayer or Bible reading is practiced in the schools in close to 20,000 sehool districts throughout the Nation. Ceremonies that bear some religious character are common in public schools almost without exception.

In every State legal authorities are now puzzling over Engel v. Vitale in order to determine its effect on practices that have long been a cherished part of the educational process.

Some legal authorities contend that the Supreme Court's decision should be given the narrowest possible construction as prohibiting only the composition of a prayer by State educational authorities. Justice Douglas, on the other hand, in his concurring opinion suggests that the Court's reasoning makes unconstitutional a wide range of practices and programs including the use of the Bible for the administering of oaths, the employment of chaplains in the Congress and the armed services, the application of the National School Lunch Act to students in church-related schools. The State Board of Education of Vermont has concluded that the Supreme Court has found unconstitutional any “intermingling of religious expressions and practices in tax-supported educational institutions."

In view of this chaotic situation, there is need for speedy clarification of the meaning of the Constitution. On this point, I would expect many of those who support the decision of the Supreme Court in Engel v. Vitale to concur.

The amendment which I have offered is limited in scope. It seeks only to cover the specific issue decided in Engel v. Vitale. I am aware of the suggestion of Bishop James Pike of the Episcopal diocese of San Francisco that the wording of the first amendment prohibiting an establishment of religion be changed. I would fear to tamper with language which has served this Nation well by establishing the boundary line that separates church and state.

All that need be done, in my opinion, is to write into the Constitution the popular belief that the establishment of religion clause was never intended to prevent schoolchildren who wish to pray from doing so nor to prohibit school authorities from making arrangements for them to do so.

I respectfully request that this statement be made a part of the record and sincerely hope that you and the committee may see fit to give favorable consideration thereto. Respectfully submitted.

WILLIAM E. MILLER, Member of Congress.


Washington, D.C., August 21, 1962. HON. JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The Supreme Court's decision in Engel v. Vitale, handed down on June 25, stirred up a storm of controversy and led to the introduction, in both the Senate and the House, of numerous proposals to amend the Constitution of the United States.

After careful study, not only of the Supreme Court's opinion, but also of the record and briefs before that Court (including the opinions of the several courts of the State of New York which had considered the case), I reach the conclusion that the Supreme Court rightly decided the issues before it, and that its decision does not require or even justify any of the proposed amendments of the Constitution.

On July 26 and August 2 the Judiciary Committee of the Senate held hearings on the resolutions proposing such amendments. I understand further hearings are in prospect, but may not be held before this Congress adjourns. Since I am not seeking reelection, I may not be able to be present at later hearings. On that account and because I would like to place my views before the committee, I ask that this letter and the attached statement be included in the record your committee is making.

Of course, Mr. Chairman, if you desire that I appear before the committee, I will make every effort to do so, whatever the time. Sincerely yours,

John H. RAY, Member of Congress.

STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY JOHN H. RAY, NEW YORK The basic facts and the question decided by the Supreme Court are simple.

In 1951, the New York State Board of Regents unanimously adopted a statement of belief which included its so-called regents' prayer, which has been read into the committee record. That prayer has been written by board employees. In 1955 the board unanimously adopted a further recommendation for school programs on America's moral and spiritual heritage, including the regents' prayer.

The District Board of Education in Hempstead, Long Island, in July 1958, directed its district principal that the regents' prayer be said daily, in all schools of the district, following the salute to the flag.

In December 1958, Engel and other parents demanded that the saying of said prayer be discontinued. The board took no action, and, in January 1959, Engel and others instituted the litigation under discussion by petition and notice of motion in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Nassau, asking a writ of mandamus to compel the Board of Education of Union Free School, District No. 9, New Hyde Park, N.Y., to discontinue the saying of that prayer. No exception was taken to the actions of the board of regents. The action of the local board, in requiring daily use of the specified prayer, was the focal point in issue.

Respondents' answer, as well as the board of regents' statement of belief, are very interesting documents, but, at this point, I need only say that the answer denied all of the petitioners' alleged claims of illegality. Petitioners duly filed their reply.

The case was referred to Mr. Justice Meyer, and, on August 24, 1959, he filed his opinion. He defined the issue and his conclusion in these words : "Respondents' school board, having followed the regents' recommendation and directed recital of the prayer, the question presented to this court is whether, as a matter of power, rather than as a question of policy, it may legally do so."

Justice Meyer's opinion is long-more than 60 printed pages—and I present here only a few selected passages :

For reasons hereafter set forth at length, it is held that while the board may authorize, it may not require, the saying of the prayer in question, but that if it does so, it must bring the authorization to the attention of parents of children in the schools, establish a procedure for excusing nonparticipants not only from saying the prayer but from the room, if they so elect, and take affirmative steps to protect the religious freedom of both nonparticipants and participants" (record, p. 58).

“It is, however, also contended that the recognition of prayer is an integral part of our national heritage, and that, therefore, the 'establishment clause' cannot have been intended to outlaw the practice in schools any more than from the rest of public life; that is, that prayer in the schools is permissible not as a means of teaching ‘spiritual values' but because traditionally and particularly at the time of the adoption of the 1st and 14th amendments, this was the accepted practice. With this argument, the court agrees" (record, p. 70).

* the prayer exercises would nevertheless be objectionable if there were direct compulsion. The board's resolution of July 8, 1958, is framed in mandatory terms. While the answering affidavit states that direction has been given that no child shall be coerced, or in any manner persuaded to participate, there is no indication that either the resolution or the direction has been brought to the attention of either the parents or the children. This is not a situation such as pertained in the Zorach case, where prior parental consent has been obtained. In view of that fact, and in view of the fact that a schoolchild cannot be expected to understand that a resolution, framed in mandatory terms, may be violated with impunity, or that such a child, not advised of his right to do so, will not normally be sufficiently aggressive to claim his constitutional privilege not to participate, the court holds that the resolution of July 8, 1958, in its present form is objectionable. The matter will, therefore, be remanded to the board for modification of its resolution to establish a procedure whereby the parents of each child are advised of the adoption of the resolution calling for the saying of the

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