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That evening, Schempp wrote the American Civil Liberties Union to ask for help, and the case began its trip to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, Schempp was headed to Tufts University and a busy academic life, and a new passion for climbing developed in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
In June 1963, Schempp heard the news of the Supreme Court decision on the car radio while honeymooning with his first wife in South Dakota. About 1,000 letters soon arrived at his parents' house _ some supportive, others filled with expletives and even smeared with excrement.
But the fervor died down after about six months. Though the decision bore his name, Schempp said the anger over the ruling was generally directed at the fervent atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, whose similar case was joined with his in the Supreme Court decision.
"Many years of my life went by in which I would rarely think of it," he said.
Schempp earned his doctorate in physics at Brown University. He worked as a professor and researched nuclear waste disposal and technology that would become part of the fiberoptics revolution. He taught in Europe, then in 1980, returned to the United States, eventually working with early MRI technology. By the early 2000s, he was consulting and moving toward semiretirement in Medford. He now gives talks on his early defense of civil liberties about once a month.
Schempp acknowledges his case and those that followed have led to some excesses by those seeking to hold the church-state divide. But overall, he thinks its principles are vitally important to preserve, and he's happy to use whatever fame he has to do that