Congress Passed the Equal Access Act - August 11
- 2013 11 Aug
AUGUST 11, 1984, by an 88-11 Senate vote and a 337-77 House vote, Congress passed the Equal Access Act, stating: "It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial assistance and which has a limited open forum, to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meeting." Regarding this, President Reagan commented August 23, 1984 at Reunion Arena, Dallas, Texas: "We even had to pass a special law in the Congress just a few weeks ago to allow student prayer groups the same access to school rooms after classes that a Young Marxist Society...would already enjoy." The Supreme Court upheld the Equal Access Act by a vote of 8-1 in Westside Community Schools v. Mergens, June 4, 1990: "If a State refused to let religious groups use facilities open to others, then it would demonstrate not neutrality but hostility toward religion. The Establishment Clause does not license government to treat religion and those who teach or practice it...as subversive of American ideals."