Interpretation's Date: February 4, 1993
by superintendent Henry Marockie
Section: IX. Other

February 4, 1993

Ms. April Reed
P. O. Box 114
Bramwell, West Virginia 24715

Dear Ms. Reed:

You have asked, ". . .why the voice of the people can't be heard. . ." as help from the State Government with your social studies project whose title is: "Why can't the voice of the people be heard on prayers in schools?"

You conclude: "Also, could you give me a suggestion as to how the voice of the people could be heard."

I don't know why the voice of the people can't be heard; however, you can find the history of this problem in Chief Justice William Rehnquist's dissenting opinion in Wallace_v._Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985).

There are several avenues for "the voice of the people to be heard." One is by amendment of the Constitution of the United States initiated by Congress; another is by constitutional amendment initiated by the States. In these cases you could ask a Member of the Congress or a State Legislator to introduce a resolution proposing the constitutional amendment.

A third avenue is to pursue a lawsuit through the Federal Judiciary with the object of getting the Supreme Court of the United States to decide that where the First Amendment says:

"Congress shall make no law. . .prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .[religion]."

This protects rather than prohibits prayer in school as long as it is done in a way that does not discriminate against someone else, and that where the First Amendment says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . ."

Ms. April Reed
Page 2
February 4, 1993

This simply means that neither Congress nor any other governmental body may prefer one religious establishment (for example, one church) over another.

All three of these avenues have been tried and are still being tried without success.

A fourth avenue, somewhat different from the rest, yet a remote possibility, would be to ask the Congress through one of your Congressmen to remove religion from the Supreme Court's jurisdiction. Jurisprudence1 does not support this, however, because our third Chief Justice (John Marshall) convinced us that the U.S. Supreme Court had inherent2 authority to decide upon the constitutionality of Federal laws, and the Fourteenth Amendment has extended this assumed authority to State laws as well. Some body should settle constitutional questions, and in our country we normally3 have accepted the Supreme Court as that body.

Hoping that I have been of service, I am



Henry Marockie
State Superintendent of Schools


cc: Dr. Deborah Akers
Interim Superintendent
Mercer County Schools

1The philosophy of law; also, the science of law. See Black's_Law_Dictionary (5th ed.).
2That is, because it is the Supreme Court of the nation. The U.S. Constitution does not mention the subject of constitutionality.
3President Andrew Jackson sometimes ignored the Supreme Court and President Lincoln sometimes suspended the Constitution. The Congress chose its own method for election of the President in 1876.

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