Virginia Supreme Court refused yesterday to hear the case of two Fairfax County high school seniors who claim their constitutional rights are being violated by the county school board's decision to schedule graduation ceremonies on a Saturday, the Jewish sabbath.
Immediately after the ruling, Micahel Hausfeld, attorney for the seniors, said he will petition U.S. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger to issue an injunction blocking Woodson High School's graduation ceremony on Saturday June 7.
The seniors, Lynn and Susan Stein, are twin sisters and possible valedictorians of their graduating class. They say the scheduling of graduation leaves them a "Hobson's Choice" of deciding whether to attend commencement exercises or honor the sabbath as commanded by Jewish law.
A Fairfax Circuit Court judge last month turned down the sisters' request to move the date, saying the voluntary nature of graduation ceremonies protects the rights of students who choose not to attend.
In a preliminary hearing before the state Supreme Court earlier this week, Hausfeld argued that compulsory attendance was irrevelant. He maintained that if the school board had "formulated a regulation stating that no Jews shall attend graduation, the effect would be the same.
Hausfeld said yesterday that if Justice Burger turns down the Steins' request he will "spend the rest of the week petitioning" the other U.S. Supreme Court Justices.