(RNS) The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to a Marylandlaw that mandates the annual closing of schools on Good Friday.

Without comment, the justices Tuesday turned away anappeal by retired teacher Judith Koenick, who argued that the ruleviolated the separation of church and state required by the U.S.Constitution.

Thirteen states have made Good Friday a legal holiday but only three--Maryland, North Dakota and Illinois--mandate that all schools beclosed on Good Friday.

A federal appeals court has struck down the Illinois law. Achallenge to Indiana's Good Friday law is pending before the justices,but they have not yet said whether they will fully review that case.

"This is not going away," said Dwight Sullivan, an American CivilLiberties Union attorney in Baltimore, the Associated Press reported. "You have the Constitution being applied differently in differentstates."

In her appeal, Koenick, who is Jewish, said the Maryland law "sendsthe message to non-Christians that the state finds Good Friday, and thusChristianity, to be a religion worth honoring while their religion ornonreligion is not of equal importance."

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled there is a legitimatepurpose for the long weekend--the avoidance of anticipated highabsenteeism among students and teachers on the days around Easter. GoodFriday, which falls two days before Easter Sunday, commemorates thecrucifixion of Jesus.

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League For Religious andCivil Rights, welcomed the high court's action but criticized the focusof the appellate court on secular rather than religious reasoning.

"It should instead have squarely faced the issue by saying that theMaryland law was accommodating--not sponsoring--a religioustradition that is grounded in our nation's history," he said in astatement. "Indeed, in Montgomery County, Maryland, schools properlyclose on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah; this accommodates Judaism withoutsponsoring anything."

Maryland law does not mandate school closings for any Jewishholiday, the AP reported. The Montgomery County schools are closed onthe first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and Yom Kippur, theJewish Day of Atonement based on findings that large numbers of studentswould be absent if schools were open at those times.

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