Supreme Court Hears ‘Good News’

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A U.S. Supreme Court verdict is being awaited following the recent oral argument over a case involving a faith-based youth program that was refused after-hours use of a Milford, N.Y., public school building.

By their questioning, a majority of the justices hearing The Good News Club v. Milford Central School in February seemed sympathetic to the arguments made by lawyers for the club, one of over 4,000 such clubs across the country affiliated with the Warrenton, Mo.-based Child Evangelism Fellowship. A worldwide missionary organization that promotes Bible-based educational programs for youngsters ages five to 12, the group was denied use of the school building because of what the school district's lawyer's called "a heavy concentration of religious instruction" in the after-school program.

"What would the community get upset about?" asked Justice Antonin Scalia. He finessed his inquiry with the comment, "I'm glad I don't live in New York anymore."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter were Scalia's opposite, with Souter the most outspoken. "It sounds like Sunday School," Souter remarked when told that when the program was allowed to operate under a preliminary injunction, the staples included hymns and Bible study.