Interpretation's Date: February 4, 1993
by superintendent Henry Marockie
Section: IX. Other
February 4, 1993
Ms. April Reed
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
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
Hoping that I have been of service, I am
cc: Dr. Deborah Akers