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What have been the specific focus of these cases?

Sometimes the cases have to do with prayer in public schools or other public forums. Sometimes the cases have to do with religious groups meeting at schools. At other times, the cases have to do with specific biblical concepts. For instance, in 1980 the Supreme Court heard the case Stone v. Graham. In this case, the Supreme Court invalidated a Kentucky law that required the Ten Commandments to be posted in every public schoolroom in the state. Those who agreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling believed the Kentucky law had an obvious religious purpose. Those who disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling countered that having the Ten Commandments posted was appropriate because they were a foundational component of Western law.

Another case, Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens, dealt with a Bible study club at a public high school. In 1984, Congress passed a law affirming that student religious groups had the right to meet in public high schools under the same auspices as other extracurricular activities. In 1985, Bridget Mergens, a student at Westside High School, sought administrative approval to have a Christian Bible Club at school. Administrators denied her request because they said she did not have a faculty sponsor. Mergens took her case to the Supreme Court where, in 1990, the case was decided in Mergens’ favor.


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