Supreme Court Turns Down Church-State Case

January 19, 2000

Source: The Washington Post

On January 19, 2000, The Washington Post reported that the Supreme Court declined to hear a constitutional challenge to Maryland's law requiring public schools to close on Good Friday. The case of Koenick v. Felton was brought by Judith Koenick, a former Montgomery County teacher who is Jewish, arguing that the law "sends a message of inclusion to Christian schoolchildren and a message of exclusion to their Jewish, Muslim, and non-believing classmates." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit concluded last year that the law has the secular purpose of the closing of school on days when many teachers and students would be absent. The Appeals Court added: "Although the statute makes it possible for students and teachers to attend services around Easter, it in no way promotes or advances this cause." In Illinois, a similar law had been struck down as unconstitutional by the 7th Circuit, but that law explicitly promotes the Christian holiday.