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Abington School District v. Schempp

Significance, Court Articulates A Test For Establishment Clause Questions, Reading The Bible In Public School


School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania


Edward Lewis Schempp

Appellant's Claim

That a Pennsylvania law requiring daily Bible readings in public schools violates the First Amendment requirement of church-state separation.

Chief Lawyers for Appellant

John D. Killian III and Philip H. Ward III

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Henry W. Sawyer III

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, William J. Brennan, Jr., Tom C. Clark (writing for the Court), William O. Douglas, Arthur Goldberg, John Marshall Harlan II, Earl Warren, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Potter Stewart


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

17 June 1963


The Supreme Court struck down the Pennsylvania statute by a vote of 8-1.

Related Cases

  • Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962).


"Dispute Settled over School Bible Courses."Christian Century, 1 April 1998.

Further Readings

  • Alley, Robert S. School Prayer: The Court, the Congress, and the First Amendment. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1994.
  • Drakeman, Donald L. Church-State Constitutional Issues: Making Sense of the Establishment Clause. New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 1991.
  • Levy, Leonard Williams. The Establishment Clause: Religion and the First Amendment. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972