The Legal Process from a Behavioral Perspective

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 22
Editorial Reaction to the Church and State Cases

The purpose of this chapter is to present and analyze some data about the reaction in editorials in various newspapers to the major decisions of the Supreme Court dealing with the separation of church and state. The analysis is primarily directed toward accounting for the different reactions of the newspapers to the decisions.


I. THE STIMULI AND THE REACTIONS

The court decisions consist of: Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 ( 1947), which upheld the constitutionality of using public funds to provide bus transportation to parochial as well as public school children; McCullom v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 ( 1948), which declared unconstitutional the conducting of voluntary doctrinal religious classes in the public schools during school hours; Zorach v. Clausen, 343 U.S. 306 ( 1952), which upheld the constitutionality of voluntary doctrinal religious classes for public school children during school hours but not on school property; and Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 ( 1962), which declared unconstitutional unison recitation of religious prayers in public school classrooms, even when the prayers are considered nonsectarian and provision is made for objecting students to be excused.

The raw data for this study were obtained by analyzing the editorials for a two-week period subsequent to each of the four court decisions, for the large-circulation daily newspapers shown in Table 22-1.1 The sample was confined to large-circulation newspapers available in the University

____________________
1
The Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor were excluded because they differ substantially from the other newspapers with regard to having a metropolitan constituency. A few additional newspapers were excluded because no relevant editorials appeared in the periods available.

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