A $1.2 billion program of federal aid to higher education was enacted last month over protests that it disregards the principle of separation of church and state. The bill, a compromise of a measure proposed by the administration of the late President Kennedy, was passed by the Senate by a vote of 54 to 27. It had cleared the House several weeks before.
The Senate originally tacked on to the measure an amendment providing for a court test of the constitutionality of loans and grants to religiously affiliated colleges and universities. The House refused to add any such amendment, and a House-Senate conference likewise declined to include it. Subsequently the Senate passed the bill without the amendment.
Two days after Senate passage the board of trustees of Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State issued a warning against an “apparent disposition on the part of the nation’s leaders to disregard constitutional provisions which have traditionally separated state and church in the matter of public assistance for church institutions.”
“It would appear that this unprecedented legislation providing direct federal grants to church institutions can only lead to more and more legislation of the same kind,” the POAU statement said.
The bill is intended to help build classrooms, laboratories, and libraries for public as well as private colleges and universities (see editorial on p. 22).
President Johnson praised the action of the Senate, saying that “this Congress is well on its way to doing more for education than any Congress since the Land Grant College Act was passed 100 years ago.” “Members of the House and Senate Education Committees—Republicans ...1
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