U.S. Court Rejects Challenge to School "Minute of Silence"

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 29, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a challenge to a Virginia law requiring a minute of silence to start each day in public school classrooms so students can meditate, pray or just stay quiet, Reuters reported.

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The high court declined to review whether the law violated the First Amendment rule against state sponsorship of religion. The justices let stand a U.S. appeals court ruling that upheld the law that took effect July 1, 2000.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, representing nine students and their families, sued, claiming the law unconstitutionally promoted religion by setting aside a minute each day for meditation, prayer or «other silent activity.´´

A federal judge rejected their request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the law from being carried out before the start of the 2000-01 school term. The appeals court, by a 2-1 vote, upheld the decision.

The Supreme Court in recent years has issued a number of important rulings about prayer at public schools. In June 2000, the high court by a 6-3 vote struck down student-led prayers at public high school football games. In 1992, it barred prayers by clergy members at graduation ceremonies.

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