- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2001

Virginia's attorney general told the U.S. Supreme Court that the state's minute of silence in public schools law doesn't require students to pray only to be silent.
Randolph A. Beales filed a brief with the court yesterday responding to the American Civil Liberties Union's request last week that the court temporarily halt enforcement of the law and grant a full review of the case.
The ACLU charges that by specifically including the option to pray, the state is holding prayer up for special status, in violation of the separation of church and state.
But Mr. Beales argued that the law should remain in effect because it serves a secular education purpose and doesn't harm children's First Amendment rights.
"The Act does not require students to do anything or say anything or hear anything. It does not require them to make any gesture or acknowledgment. It only requires them to stay in their seats, to remain silent and not to distract their classmates," Mr. Beales argued.
The legislature passed and Gov. James S. Gilmore III signed a law last year to require every public school to hold a minute of silence during which children can pray, meditate or do any other silent, nondisruptive activity. The ACLU sued to stop it and, a district judge in Alexandria, then a 2-1 decision by the federal appeals court in Richmond, upheld the law.
Mr. Beales, in a statement, also chided the ACLU for continuing its suit: "It is truly sad that the ACLU is expending so much energy and resources in an effort to stop Virginia's schoolchildren from starting the school day with a minute of silence."
Yesterday's reply was just to the ACLU's request for a temporary halt to the law. Virginia has the rest of this month to reply to the ACLU's second request, that the court hear the entire case.

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