Student's simple stand made history in Abington v. Schempp

tags: Supreme Court, SCOTUS, First Amendment, Abington v. Schempp, separation of church and state



He was a 16-year-old junior at Abington Senior High School, just making a statement, utterly unaware that he was about to make legal history.

It was in 1956 that Ellery Schempp staged the classroom protest that yielded Abington v. Schempp, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning mandatory Bible readings in public schools.

When Schempp's homeroom teacher read aloud 10 verses from the New Testament at the start of the day, as required by Pennsylvania law, Schempp brazenly paged through a Quran he had borrowed from a friend.

When a student read the Lord's Prayer over the public address system, another daily requirement, Schempp refused to stand.

Those actions earned him trips to the principal and guidance counselor, and triggered years of litigation over his belief that such readings were unconstitutional....




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