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STEIN v. OSHINSKY

December 20, 1963

Kimberly STEIN, a minor, by Audrey H. Stein, his parent and next friend, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Elihu OSHINSKY, Principal, Public School 184, Whitestone, New York, and Max J.Rubin et al., constituting the Board of Education of the City of New York, and Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRUCHHAUSEN

The infant plaintiffs seek a mandatory injunction, requiring the defendants to afford the plaintiffs an opportunity to express their love and affection to Almighty God each day through a prayer, voluntarily offered in their respective classrooms; an injunction, enjoining the defendants from interfering with the recitation of this prayer, and to declare such prayers constitutional. The defendants move to dismiss the complaint.

The facts indicate that the infant plaintiffs, students in P.S. 184, Whitestone, New York, were precluded from reciting a prayer pursuant to an order of the school principal. The prayers were as follows:

 'God is Great, God is Good

 And we thank Him for our Food, Amen.'

 The above prayer was recited by the kindergarten children in the morning classes prior to their partaking of milk and cookies.

 The afternoon classes recited the following prayer:

 'Thank You for the World So Sweet

 Thank You for the food we eat

 Thank You for the birds that sing

 Thank You God for everything.'

 The New York City Board of Education and the Board of Regents of The University of the State of New York upheld the principal's ruling.

 The infant plaintiffs by their parents demand an opportunity to express their love to God. These plaintiffs are members of Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Armenian Apostolic and Episcopalian faiths.

 The issue is whether the State may deny children attending public schools the opportunity to recite a daily prayer in classrooms, and does such denial constitute a prohibition against the free exercise of religion or a denial of free speech and finally does such ban conflict with the doctrine of neutrality required of a State in its relationship with its citizens.

 It is alleged that this prohibition violates the free exercise clause and the free speech clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States as made applicable to the ...


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