Equal Access Case Argued

Can an after-school Christian club use public school facilities? The Supreme Court will decide
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A case before the U.S. Supreme Court may determine whether an after-school Christian club for elementary-age students has the same access to public school buildings as any other club. The court heard oral arguments in late February.

The case pits the Good News Club of Milford, New York, an affiliate of Child Evangelism Fellowship, against the Milford Central School. "We're not asking for unique access, just equal access," argued Thomas Marcelle, a lawyer from Delmar, New York, on behalf of the club.

The school is right to exclude religious, commercial, or partisan political purposes, especially when younger children are involved, argued Frank Miller, an attorney from East Syracuse, New York.

"The only children who attend the Good News Club attend with permission from their parents," Marcelle responded. He noted that the school permits scouting activities, which include moral instruction. The school's lawyer said the club should be barred because its activities (an opening prayer, religious songs, and Bible stories and games) amounted to worship.

Justice Antonin Scalia replied, "I think it's a great distortion to call it a worship service, even if you throw in a prayer or two."

The court is expected to issue its ruling by the end of June.

Related Elsewhere has quotes from the oral arguments—mainly those of the colorful Justice Scalia.

"The Supreme Court appeared generally sympathetic" to the Good News Club's argument, reported The New York Times. More coverage of the case and arguments is available from UPI, (which has a sample lesson from the Good News Club), the Associated Press, and The Christian Science Monitor.

The Associated Press earlier reported that the debate in Milford has been extraordinarily calm. ...

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