Law & Religion

Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)

Facts of the Case:The Compulsory Education Act of 1922 required parents or guardians to send children between the ages of eight and sixteen to public school in the district where the children resided. The Society of Sisters was an Oregon corporation which facilitated care for orphans, educated youths, and established and maintained academies or schools. This case was decided together with Society of Sisters v. Hill Military Academy.

Question:Did the Act violate the liberty of parents to direct the education of their children?

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Conclusion: Yes. The unanimous Court held that “the fundamental liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.”

Cochran v. Louisiana (1930)

Louisiana passed a statute that allowed for the purchasing of secular textbooks for all school children (secular and religious). The statute was challenged for violating the Fourteenth Amendment because the government was depriving taxpayers of their property without due process. This claim was made because the public funds were being used to benefit private organizations. The Court upheld the Louisiana statute that provided state funds for the purchasing of textbooks for both religious and public school students. The Court uses a very literal interpretation to determine the beneficiaries of the statute. Even though the religious schools are spared the expenses of purchasing textbooks for their students, the Court determined that it was the individual students who received the benefit.

Everson v. Board of Education (1947)

Facts of the case:  A New Jersey law allowed reimbursements of money to parents who sent their children to school on buses operated by the public transportation system. Children who attended Catholic schools also qualified for this transportation subsidy.

Question:  Did the New Jersey statute violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:   No. A divided Court held that the law did not violate the Constitution. After detailing the history and importance of the Establishment Clause, Justice Black argued that services like bussing and police and fire protection for parochial schools are “separate and so indisputably marked off from the religious function” that for the state to provide them would not violate the First Amendment. The law did not pay money to parochial schools, nor did it support them directly in anyway. It was simply a law enacted as a “general program” to assist parents of all religions with getting their children to school.

 

They created this high wall, and in the middle put a little door. 

Board of Education v. Allen (1968)
Facts of the Case: 

A 1965 amendment to New York’s Education Law required public school boards to lend textbooks to elementary and secondary school students enrolled in private and parochial schools. The Board of Education for New York Central School District No. 1, contending that the law violated the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment, filed suit against James Allen, Commissioner of Education, requesting a declaratory injunction to prevent enforcement of the statute. The trial court agreed with the board and found the statute unconstitutional. The Appellate Division reversed the ruling, finding that the boards lacked standing. On appeal, the New York Court of Appeals ruled the boards did have standing, but also found that, because the law’s purpose was to benefit all students regardless of the type of school they attended, the law did not violate the First Amendment.

Question: Do the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment forbid New York from requiring that public school boards loan textbooks to parochial school students without cost?

Conclusion: No. In a 6-3 opinion authored by Justice Byron R. White, the Court applied the test constructed in Abington School District v. Schempp and found that, because the stated legislative purpose and necessary effects of the statute did not advance any one religion or religion in general, the law did not violate the First Amendment. Because the books were given to the students, rather than the parochial schools themselves, the Court reasoned, “the financial benefit is to parents and children, not schools.”

Decision: 6 votes for Allen, 3 vote(s) against

Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

Committee for Public Education v. Nyquist (1973)

Question:  Did Sections 1-5 of Chapter 414 of New York’s Education and Tax Laws violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?

Conclusion: Yes to all sections. In a 6-3 decision, the Court affirmed the District Court on maintenance grant and tuition reimbursement and reversed the District Court on income tax relief. The Court cited earlier decisions that established that under the Establishment Clause, a law must “first, reflect a clearly secular legislative purpose, second, must have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion, and third, must avoid excessive government entanglement with religion.” Writing for the majority, Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. acknowledged that New York’s interest in creating a positive educational environment was a clearly secular purpose. Section 1, however, did not limit the use of the grants towards maintaining facilities used for secular purposes. This distinguished Section 1 from other aid programs approved by the Court in the past in Board of Education v. Allen and Tilton v. Richardson. Since “all or practically all” of the schools that qualified were affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, the maintenance grants would “subsidize and advance the religious mission of sectarian schools” in violation of the Establishment Clause. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Justice William H. Rehnquist concurred in this part of the judgment. The Court also struck down Section 2, as the tuition reimbursements did not “guarantee the separation between secular and religious educational functions.” While the Court recognized the possibility that reimbursement money would not end up in the hands of religious schools, the grants would attempt to “enhance the opportunities of the poor to choose between public and nonpublic education,” which would advance religion. Lastly, the Court reversed the District Court with regard to Sections 3, 4, and 5, ruling that effect of tax relief was similar to that of the tuition reimbursement and therefore unconstitutional. The Court in Walz v. Tax Commission upheld New York’s property tax exemptions for religious organizations. However, the tax exemption was designed to prevent government oppression of religion through taxation, not for the promotion of religion.

Decision: 6 votes for Committee For Public Education, 3 vote(s) against

Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)

Question:; Did the Rhode Island and Pennsylvania statutes violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by making state financial aid available to “church- related educational institutions”?

Conclusion: Yes. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Burger articulated a three-part test for laws dealing with religious establishment. To be constitutional, a statute must have “a secular legislative purpose,” it must have principal effects which neither advance nor inhibit religion, and it must not foster “an excessive government entanglement with religion.” The Court found that the subsidization of parochial schools furthered a process of religious inculcation, and that the “continuing state surveillance” necessary to enforce the specific provisions of the laws would inevitably entangle the state in religious affairs. The Court also noted the presence of an unhealthy “divisive political potential” concerning legislation which appropriates support to religious schools.

Decision: 8 votes for Lemon, 0 vote(s) against

Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

Agostini v. Felton (1997)
Facts of the Case: This suit was brought by a New York parochial school board, and some of its student’s parents, as a challenge to a District Court ruling upholding the twelve-year-old decision set out in Aguilar v. Felton (473 US 402). The decision in Aguilar prohibited public school teachers from teaching in parochial schools as a violation of the Establishment Clause. On appeal from the Second Circuit’s affirmance of a District Court’s denial of the parent’s challenge, the Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Question: Is the Establishment Clause violated when public school teachers instruct in parochial schools?

Conclusion: No. The Court overruled its decision in Aguilar v. Felton. The Court held that there was no evidence to support its former presumption that the entrance of public school teachers into parochial schools will inevitably lead to the indoctrination of state-sponsored religion. The New York program under which public school teachers were sent into parochial schools did not provide parochial schools with any incentive, financial or other, to establish religion in order to attract public school teachers. The Court added that under its new view, only those policies which generate an excessive conflict between church and state will be deemed to violate the Establishment Clause. As such, one should no longer find that all entanglements between church and state have a distinctly positive or negative impact on religion.

Decision: 5 votes for Agostini, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002)
Facts of the Case: Ohio’s Pilot Project Scholarship Program provides tuition aid in the form of vouchers for certain students in the Cleveland City School District to attend participating public or private schools of their parent’s choosing. Both religious and nonreligious schools in the district may participate. Tuition aid is distributed to parents according to financial need, and where the aid is spent depends solely upon where parents choose to enroll their children. In the 1999-2000 school year 82 percent of the participating private schools had a religious affiliation and 96 percent of the students participating in the scholarship program were enrolled in religiously affiliated schools. Sixty percent of the students were from families at or below the poverty line. A group of Ohio taxpayers sought to enjoin the program on the ground that it violated the Establishment Clause. The District Court granted them summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Question: Does Ohio’s school voucher program violate the Establishment Clause?

Conclusion: No. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held that the program does not violate the Establishment Clause. The Court reasoned that, because Ohio’s program is part of Ohio’s general undertaking to provide educational opportunities to children, government aid reaches religious institutions only by way of the deliberate choices of numerous individual recipients and the incidental advancement of a religious mission, or any perceived endorsement, is reasonably attributable to the individual aid recipients not the government. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote that the “Ohio program is entirely neutral with respect to religion. It provides benefits directly to a wide spectrum of individuals, defined only by financial need and residence in a particular school district. It permits such individuals to exercise genuine choice among options public and private, secular and religious. The program is therefore a program of true private choice.”

Decision: 5 votes for Zelman, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

Mitchell v. Helms (2000)
Facts of the Case: Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 provides for the allocation of funds for educational materials and equipment, including library materials and computer software and hardware, to public and private elementary and secondary schools to implement “secular, neutral, and nonideological” programs. In Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, about 30% of Chapter 2 funds are allocated for private schools, most of which are Catholic or otherwise religiously affiliated. Mary Helms and other public school parents file suit alleging that Chapter 2, as applied in Jefferson Parish, violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The District Court initially agreed, finding that Chapter 2 had the primary effect of advancing religion because the materials and equipment loaned to the Catholic schools were direct aid and that the schools were pervasively sectarian. However, after the presiding judge who made the initial ruling retired, the case was reviewed by a new judge, who reversed that decision. Thereafter, based on different precedent, the court upheld Chapter 2. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held Chapter 2 unconstitutional.
Question: Does Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?

Conclusion: No. In a 6-3 plurality decision delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court held that that Chapter 2, as applied in Jefferson Parish, is not a law respecting an establishment of religion simply because many of the private schools receiving Chapter 2 aid in the parish are religiously affiliated. Turning to neutrality to distinguish between indoctrination attributable to the State and that which is not, Justice Thomas wrote for the Court, “[i]f the religious, irreligious, and areligious are all alike eligible for governmental aid, no one would conclude that any indoctrination that any particular recipient conducts has been done at the behest of the government.”

Decision: 6 votes for Mitchell, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision:
Establishment of Religion

Davey v. Locke (2004)

Facts of the Case: The Washington State Promise Scholarship, created by the state legislature in 1999, gives college scholarship money to talented students. However, this money cannot be used to obtain a degree in theology if the program is taught to cause belief. Washington’s constitution prohibits funding religious instruction. The 1969 state code applied this ban to college financial aid.

Joshua Davey forfeited his Promise Scholarship money in order to major in pastoral ministries at a private Christian college. Davey filed suit in U.S. district court, claiming the state constitution’s ban on funding religious instruction violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion (in the U.S. Constitution). The district court rejected Davey’s claim. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, concluding Davey’s free exercise rights were violated.

Question: If a state provides college scholarships for secular instruction, does the First Amendment’s free exercise clause require a state to fund religious instruction?
Conclusion: No. In a 7-2 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the Court ruled that a state does not violate the First Amendment’s free exercise clause when it funds secular college majors but excludes devotional theology majors. The Court rejected Davey’s argument that the state scholarship program is unconstitutional because it is not neutral toward religion. “The State has merely chosen not to fund a distinct category of instruction,” the Court wrote. Similarly the Washington Constitution – which explicitly prohibits state money from going to religious instruction – does not violate the free exercise clause. Unlike laws and programs the Court has struck down under the free exercise clause, nothing in either the scholarship program or the state constitution “suggests animus towards religion.” States have a “historic and substantial interest” in excluding religious activity from public funding.

Decision: 7 votes for Locke, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Free Exercise of Religion

Minersville v. Gobitis (1940)
Facts of the Case: Lillian and William Gobitis were expelled from the public schools of Minersville, Pennsylvania, for refusing to salute the flag as part of a daily school exercise. The Gobitis children were Jehovah’s Witnesses; they believed that such a gesture of respect for the flag was forbidden by Biblical commands.
Question: Did the mandatory flag salute infringe upon liberties protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion: No. In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court declined to make itself “the school board for the country” and upheld the mandatory flag salute. The Court held that the state’s interest in “national cohesion” was “inferior to none in the hierarchy of legal values” and that national unity was “the basis of national security.” The flag, the Court found, was an important symbol of national unity and could be a part of legislative initiatives designed “to promote in the minds of children who attend the common schools an attachment to the institutions of their country.”

Epperson v. Arkansas 1968

393 U.S. 97 (1968)

Facts:

;;;;;;;;; This appeal challenges the constitutionality of the “anti-evolution” stature which the State of Arkansas adopted in 1928 to prohibit the teaching in its public schools and universities of the theory that man evolved from other species of life.

;;;;;;;;; Susan Epperson, employed by the Little Rock school system was supposed to use a textbook to teach Biology. The text had a chapter on evolution which, if taught, could result in her dismissal or criminal charges.

;;;;;;;;; The Chancery Court dismissed but the State Supreme Court reversed, holding that the law was a valid exercise of authority over education.

;;;;;;;;; Arkansas’ law cannot be defended as an act of religious neutrality. The law’s effort was confined to an attempt to blot out a particular theory because of its supposed conflict with the biblical account of the creation of man.

Question:

;;;;;;;;; Is an Arkansas statute that made it unlawful for a teacher in a state-supported school to teach evolution constitutional?

Decision:

;;;;;;;;; Plainly, the law is contrary to the mandate of the First, and in violation of the 14th amendment of the Constitution. The judgement of the Supreme Court of Arkansas is: REVERSED

Concurring opinion:

;;;;;;;;; Justice Black – The stature is too vague for us to strike it down on any ground but that: vagueness.

;

Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)

406 U.S. 205 (1972)

 

Facts:

·         Members of the Amish and Mennonite Church were convicted of violating Wisconsin’s compulsory school-attendance law by declining to send their children to public of private school after they had graduated from the 8th grade. 

·         The Amish believe that exposure to high school was contradictory to the spiritual and vocational training conducted in the home or within the Order.

·         Wisconsin Supreme court reversed the convictions under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

·         The record in this case abundantly supports the claim that the traditional way of life of the Amish is not merely a matter of personal preference, but one of deep religious conviction, shared by an organized group, and intimately related to daily living.

·         State assumed that the Amish do not provide any education for their children beyond the 8th grade, but allow them to grown in “ignorance.”

·         Under testimony of experts it was noted that the Amish provide what has been characterized as ideal vocational education.

Question:

·         This case reviewed a decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court holding that respondents’ convictions of violating the State’s compulsory school-attendance law were invalid under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution made applicable to the states by the 14th Amendment.

Decision:

·         The court affirmed the Wisconsin Supreme Court, deciding that Wisconsin’s compulsory school attendance law unduly burdened the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment.

·         Dissenting Opinion:

o    Justice Douglass: dissenting in part, stated that the religious views of the child whose parent was the subject of the suit were crucial, and that although the judgment below was properly affirmed as to one of the defendants, whose child had testified that her own religious views were opposed to high-school education, the case should be remanded as to the other defendants, so that their children could be given an opportunity to be heard.

Stone v. Graham (1980)

449 U.S. 39 (1980)

Facts:

·         The court took the unusual step of summarily reversing a lower court’s decision without the benefit of oral argument.

·         Involved a Kentucky law that required the posting of the Ten Commandments in public elementary and secondary schools.

·         Both the trial and state Court the purpose of the law was secular rather than religious.

Question: Is the Kentucky law’s pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls plainly religious in nature.

Decision: The Supreme Court disagreed and summarily reversed the lower court decision.  The Court issued a per curiam decision which is an opinion by all of the justices in the majority rather than an opinion written by any one justice.

·         The Court majority in the case was of the opinion that the state of Kentucky wanted public school students to venerate the religious principles contained in the Ten Commandments.

·         Dissenting Opinion: Chief Justice Warren Burger, Justice Harry Blackmun

o   Would have granted certiorari and given the case full consideration with briefing and oral argument.

o   Justices Rehnquist & Stewart also dissented

Widmar v. Vincent (1981)

454 U.S. 263 (1981)

Facts:

;;;;;;;;; Students challenged a universities policy that prohibited the use of university buildings or grounds for purposes of religious worship.

;;;;;;;;; They alleged that the University;s discrimination against religious activity and discussion violated their rights to free exercise of religion, equal protection, and freedom of speech under the 1st and 14th Amendments.

;;;;;;;;; The Constitution forbids a State to enforce certain exclusions from a forum generally open to the public, even if it was not required to create the forum in the first place.

;;;;;;;;; The University argues that it cannot offer its facilities without violating the Establishment Clause.

;;

Question:

;;;;;;;;; Can a state university, which makes its facilities generally available for the activities of registered student groups, may close its facilities to a registered student group desiring to use the facilities for religious worship and religious discussion?

Decision:

;;;;;;;;; The University;s exclusionary policy violates the fundamental principle that a state regulation of speech should be content-neutral, and the University is unable to justify this violation under applicable constitutional standards.

;;;;;;;;; We agree with the Court of Appeals that the advancement of religion would not be the forum;s ;primary effect.;

;;;;;;;;; The decision is of the Court of Appeals against the University is AFFIRMED

;;;;;;;;; Dissenting Opinion:

o;; Justice White ; The majority rejects the University;s argument that the Establishment Clause prohibits the use of university buildings for religious purposes.

o;; The issue is not whether the State must, or must not, open its facilities to religious worship; rather, it is whether the State may choose not to do so.

Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)

472 U.S. 38 (1985)

Facts:

;;;;;;;;; Alabama statute mandating a moment of silence which included ;meditation or voluntary prayer; and ;authorizing teachers to lead ;willing students; in a prescribed prayer to ;Almighty God;the Creator and Supreme Judge of the world;;

;;;;;;;;; The sponsor of the bill, on record, indicated that the legislation was an ;effort to return voluntary prayer; to the public schools.

;;;;;;;;; The State did not present evidence of any secular purpose.

;;;;;;;;; a United States District Court found that this statute was intended to encourage religious activity, but held that it was constitutional because a state has the power to establish a state religion if it chooses to do so, and accordingly dismissed the challenge to that statute

;;;;;;;;; The United States Court of Appeals reversed that decision.

Question:

;;;;;;;;; This case presented the question whether an Alabama statute authorizing public school teachers to hold a one-minute period of silence for “meditation or voluntary prayer” each day violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Decision:

;;;;;;;;; State statute authorizing a moment of silence in public schools for “meditation or voluntary prayer”, for the sole express purpose of returning voluntary prayer to the schools, held to violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

;;;;;;;;; The Supreme Court affirmed the US Court of Appeals

;;;;;;;;; Dissenting Opinion:

o;;; Chief Justice Burger – ;expressed the view that the Alabama statute did not unconstitutionally endorse prayer merely by specifying that voluntary prayer was one of the authorized activities during the moment of silence.

o;;; Justice White expressed the view that the First Amendment does not proscribe either (1) a statute authorizing or requiring in so many words a moment of silence before classes begin, or (2) a statute that provides, when it is initially passed, for a moment of silence for meditation or prayer.

o;;; Justice Rehnquist expressed the view that the establishment clause prohibits government preference among religious sects or denominations, but does not require government neutrality between religion and irreligion or prohibit nondiscriminatory government aid to religion, and thus does not prohibit statutes which endorse prayer in general.

Tilton v. Richardson (1971)

403 U.S. 672 (1971)

Facts:;

;;;;;;;;; The Federal Higher Education Facility Act of 1963 gave construction grants to church- sponsored higher education institutes.

;;;;;;;;; The money had to be used to construct non- religious school facilities.

;;;;;;;;; The act stipulated that after twenty years, the school could use the facilities for whatever purpose they chose.

;;;;;;;;; The court affirmed, holding that Congress intended HEFA to include all colleges and universities regardless of any affiliation with or sponsorship by a religious body.

;;;;;;;;; The court found that HEFA did not create excessive entanglement between government and church. The religious institutions in question had a predominant higher education mission to provide their students with a secular education.

;;;;;;;;; The entanglement between church and state was also lessened by the nonideological character of the aid that the government provided.

;;;;;;;;; In addition, government entanglements were reduced by the fact that the aid was a one-time, single-purpose construction grant.

;;;;;;;;; SignificanceIn making this decision the Court did not discuss whether the assistance to the religious schools for non-religious purposes would enhance their ability to further their religious instruction.

;;;;;;;;; Taxpayers, whose money was given to religious institutions, were not harmed provided their own religious practices were not affected.

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; By a 5-4 vote, the Court decided that the grants for non-religious school facilities did not violate the Establishment Clause.

;;;;;;;;; By an 8-1 vote, it decided that the provision limiting the state;s interest to twenty years was unconstitutional.

Concurrences/Dissents ; Douglas with Black, and Marshall (in part)

;

Hunt v. McNair 1973

413 U.S. 734 (1973)

Facts:;

;;;;;;;;; The South Carolina Educational Facilities Act (the Act) provided for an authority to review proposals for educational facilities and approve the issuance of revenue bonds for such facilities.

;;;;;;;;; The authority approved a proposal from a Baptist college and taxpayer brought suit challenging the Act as violating the Establishment Clause.

;;;;;;;;; The trial court denied relief, the state supreme court affirmed.

;;;;;;;;; it was held that the proposed transaction did not violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause, because:

o     (1) the statute has a secular purpose in seeking to aid institutions of higher education, whether or not they have religious affiliations;

o    (2) the Baptist College’s operations were not oriented significantly toward sectarian rather than secular education, since there were no religious qualifications for faculty membership or student admission, and its percentage of Baptist students was roughly equal to the percentage of Baptists in that area of the state;

o;;; (3) the bond issuance would not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, because the project would not include any buildings or facilities used for religious purposes; and

o;;; (4) the transaction would not foster an excessive entanglement with religion merely because the college has a formalistic relationship or because the Authority might foreclose if the college should fail to make the prescribed rental payments or otherwise default in its obligations.

Question:

;;;;;;;;; Did the South Carolina Facilities Act violate the Establishment Clause when applied to a sectarian college?

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; The Court found that the purpose of the Act was secular, and taxpayer did not present evidence that religion was so pervasive in the college that a substantial portion of its functions were religious, such that the primary effect of the Act, as applied to the college, would be to advance religion.

;;;;;;;;; There was no evidence of potential excessive entanglement either in the inspection of the project or in setting prices for the use of the facility, as the authority would not become involved in setting prices unless the college failed to make its rent payments.

;;;;;;;;; The Court affirmed, holding that the South Carolina Educational Facilities Act was constitutional as interpreted and applied

Concurrences/Dissents:

;;;;;;;;; Brennan, J., joined by Douglas and Marshall, JJ., dissented on the ground that the scheme involved the state to an unconstitutional degree in policing the college’s affairs, and thus violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

Levitt v. Committee for Public Education 1973

413 U.S. 472 (1973)

Facts:;

;;;;;;;;; The New York Legislature appropriated $ 28,000,000 to reimburse nonpublic schools in the State “for expenses of services for examination and inspection in connection with administration, grading nd the compiling and reporting of the results of tests and examinations, maintenance of records of pupil enrollment and reporting thereon, maintenance of pupil health records, recording of personnel qualifications and characteristics and the preparation and submission to the state of various other reports . . . .”

;;;;;;;;; Schools are not required to account for the moneys received and how they are spent.

;;;;;;;;; While the Act states that it shall not be construed to authorize payments for religious worship or instruction, church-sponsored schools are eligible to receive payments there under.

;;;;;;;;; Since the grants in Levitt were not supervised, and since there was no therefore no way to determine if some of the money might be used for sectarian/religious purposes, the program violated the Establishment Clause

;;;;;;;;; The three-judge District Court found the Act unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause and permanently enjoined its enforcement.

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; The Court affirmed the issuance of the permanent injunction, as sought by the taxpayers and their association, enjoining the state officials from enforcing a state law that provided reimbursement to religious schools for the costs of certain mandated services.

;;;;;;;;; Specifically, the court held that the law violated the Establishment Clause because the religious and non-religious aspects of the services could not be differentiated.

;;;;;;;;; Because the statute only provided for a single per-pupil allotment for a variety of specified services, some secular and some potentially reiligious, and neither the Court nor the lower courts could properly reduce that allotment to an amount corresponding to actual costs incurred in preforming reimbursable secular services, the program must falter under the First Amendment.

;

Concurrences/Dissents:

;;;;;;;;; Douglas, Brennan, Marshall affirm The Court. White dissents.

Meek v. Pittenger 1975

421 U.S. 349 (1975)

Facts:;

;;;;;;;;; Three Pennsylvania statutes were challenged for allegedly violating the Establishment Clause.

o;;; First, textbooks appropriate for secular schools could be purchased for students in private schools.

o;;; Also, the state offered remedial help for non-public school students. This took the form of speech and hearing therapy or a variety of psychological services.

o;;; Finally, schools were provided instructional materials including projectors, recorders, and laboratory paraphernalia.

;;;;;;;;; The first part of this decision is consistent with past cases in allowing secular textbooks to be provided for non-public school students.

;;;;;;;;; The other two parts are not permitted because the religious education might benefit. When this potential exists, it is inappropriate to ask the State to ensure that the goods supplied are used only for secular education because enforcement would lead to entanglement.

;;;;;;;;; ;

;

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; The Court permitted Pennsylvania to purchase textbooks for non-public school students,

;;;;;;;;; but did not allow for the purchase of instructional materials or the supplication of special needs instructors.

;;;;;;;;; The textbook loan program is permissible just as a similar one was allowed in Allen.

;;;;;;;;; Only those books that can be used in secular classes may be purchased with the money.

;;;;;;;;; The loaning of instructional material to private schools is unconstitutional because it directly aids religion. The materials could easily be used by the schools as part of their religious education.

;;;;;;;;; Likewise, the supplying of staff to assist students with special needs in religious schools improperly benefits religion.

;;;;;;;;; ;In order for the State to ensure that these employees teach only secular ideologies, the government would have to become excessively entangled with the religious schools.

;;;;;;;;; Even if the fostering of religious ideas is unintentional, it still is in violation of the Establishment Clause.

;;;;;;;;; The fact that the teachers and counselors providing auxiliary services are employees of the public intermediate unit, rather than of the church-related schools in which they work, does not substantially eliminate the need for continuing surveillance but they are performing important educational services in schools in which education is an integral part of the dominant sectarian mission and in which an atmosphere dedicated to the advancement of religious belief is constantly maintained.

Concurrences/Dissents:

;;;;;;;;; BRENNAN; BURGER; REHNQUIST (Dissent in part)

Roemer v. Board of Public Works of Maryland 1976

426 U.S. 736 (1976)

Facts:;

;;;;;;;;; A Maryland statute allowed the issuance of monetary grants to private colleges and universities that did not offer only theological degrees.

;;;;;;;;; The amount of money given was based on the number of students enrolled in the school who were not pursuing a theological degree.

;;;;;;;;; A suit was brought on behalf of taxpayers who claimed that the grants constituted an improper aid to religion.

;;;;;;;;; Significance: This decision places much trust in the abilities of non-public universities to decide where the grants may be appropriately spent. By concentrating on the specific use of the money given by the State, the Court avoids the argument that the additional funds being given to finance secular education will allow the universities to focus more of their own funds on religious activities

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; The Court permitted Maryland to give grants to non-public schools with the stipulation that the money only be spent on secular functions.

;;;;;;;;; The statute does not improperly advance religion because the money must be spent on secular education.

;;;;;;;;; The totality of the education at religious universities includes both religious and non-religious aspects.

;;;;;;;;; There are numerous secular activities upon which the money may properly be spent.

;;;;;;;;; Although the schools must submit annual reports to renew their funding, the relationship between the State and religion does not lead to excessive entanglement.

;;;;;;;;; ;[C]ontacts between the Council and the colleges are not likely to be any more entangling than the inspections and audits incident to the normal process of the colleges’ accreditations by the State. These universities are capable of separating their religious and secular functions, so the State will not be required to become excessively entangled in order to monitor the expenditures.

Concurrences/Dissents:

·         Blackmun, Burger, White, Rehnquist and Powell – concur

·         Brennan, Marshall, Stevens, and Stewart, – dissent

Wolman v. Walter 1977

433 U.S. 229 (1977)

Facts: 

·         A suit was brought challenging the constitutionality of a series of benefits being offered from Ohio to non-public schools and their students.

·         First, approved secular textbooks were supplied.

·         Standardized testing and scoring were also offered.

·         Speech and hearing diagnostic services were provided by board of education members and contracted physicians.

·         Remedial services were offered for non-public school student needing special attention.

·         These services were not given inside the private schools, but rather in public schools or in mobile classrooms. Instructional materials that were “incapable of diversion to religious use” were given to the schools.

·          Finally, field trip transportation was given to students attending non-public schools.

·         In this decision, the Court continues to emphasize the role of the supervisor of the students.

·         When diagnostic and therapeutic services are offered by members of the board of education there is no fear of religious training.

·         However, when neutral educational materials are provided or field trips are taken to secular places, the religious teacher is able to impart religious meaning to otherwise neutral items

Conclusion/Decision:

·         The Court allowed Ohio to provide textbooks, standardized tests, therapeutic and diagnostic services to non-public school children.

·         However, the state could not offer educational materials or subsidize class field trips.

·         The textbook-purchase provision is constitutional as the Court has repeatedly decided.

·         The supply of standardized tests and their scoring is also permissible because the state has an interest in ensuring that its youth receive a proper education.

·         Diagnostic services are proper because, unlike teaching, there is no educational function and limited contact with the student.

·         The neutrality of the therapeutic services is demonstrated by their being held outside the non-public school setting.

·         The supplying of educational materials is unconstitutional because it has the primary effect of providing a direct and substantial advancement of the sectarian enterprise.

·         The field trip provision is unconstitutional and differs from the busing permitted in Everson is several ways.

·         The non-public school has greater control over the timing and frequency of the trips.

·         The religious school teacher could impart a religious meaning to a field trip taken to a secular place.

·         As a result, the funding of field trips must be treated as the giving of educational materials to private schools.

·         Excessive entanglement would be required to ensure that they serve only a secular purpose.

Concurrences/Dissents:

·         All concurred in part and some dissented in part.

Committee for Public Education v. Regan 1980

444 U.S. 646 (1980)

Facts: 

·         New York passed a statute allowing nonpublic schools to be reimbursed for the costs incurred in administering and reporting results of state-mandated test scores.

·         The funds given to the schools were audited to ensure that the money was only used to cover the costs of compliance with the state standards.

·         This statute was challenged on the grounds that it unconstitutionally aided religious schools.

·         Significance – The Court refused to set forth a litmus test to be used to assess whether other reimbursement schemes violated the Establishment Clause. Rather, they stressed the importance of looking at each case separately to determine its effects.

Conclusion/Decision:

·         The Court permitted New Yorks plan to reimburse nonpublic schools for the costs resulting from offering and recording the results of state-mandated tests.

Concurrences/Dissents:

·         Majority – WhiteThe standards set forth in Wolman are controlling in this case.

o   In this case, the reimbursement of nonpublic schools clearly has a secular agenda, to provide educational opportunity of a quality which will prepare [New York] citizens for the challenges of American life in the last decades of the twentieth century.

o   The tests themselves involve secular academic subjects rather than religious topics.

o   The nonpublic school has no control over the subject matter of the tests.

o   The recording and reporting of the test results are administrative and not part of the educative role carried out by the nonpublic schools.

o   The reimbursement process, furthermore, is straightforward and susceptible to the routinization that characterizes most reimbursement schemes.

o   On its face, therefore, the New York plan suggests no excessive entanglement, and we are not prepared to read into the plan as an inevitability the bad faith upon which any future excessive entanglement would be predicated.

·         Dissent – Blackmun – An application of the three parts of the Lemon Test displays that this statute is unconstitutional. 

o   For, while it passes the first part, the statute both advances religion and establishes an overwhelming government entanglement with religion by permitting direct funds to be given to private religious schools. 

o   Previously decided cases do not weigh in favor of declaring the statute constitutional because they did not involve the constitutional affirmation of direct cash aid as is in question here.  “The Courts holding today goes further in approving state assistance to sectarian schools than the Court has gone in past decisions

Mueller v. Allen 1983

463 U.S. 388 (1983)

Facts: 

·         A Minnesota law allowed parents to deduct from their state income taxes any expenses from school tuition, textbooks, or transportation for their children.

·         This covered elementary and secondary students and was available regardless of whether the children attended public or private (including parochial) schools.

·         The Court was to decide whether this offered unconstitutional aid to religious schools.

·         Significance- So long as the benefit to religious schools is indirect (parents had the ultimate decision), then an exemption offered to other students must be available to students in religious schools.

·         Significance – So long as the benefit to religious schools is indirect (parents had the ultimate decision), then an exemption offered to other students must be available to students in religious schools.

Conclusion/Decision:

·         The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, allowed the deductions to be made by parents with students attending religious schools.

·         The Court used the Lemon test to analyze the tax deductions offered by Minnesota.

·         The states decision was both understandable and secular.

·         There is a public interest in having an educated populace, and by extension there is a benefit from having healthy private schools. This is one of many deductions offered by the state and is available to all parents.

·         For the deduction to be unavailable to parents of children in religious schools would be hostile to religion. The benefits felt by religious schools is indirect and results from the numerous private choices of parents.

·         The state is still leaving the choice with parents concerning where their children are to attend school.

·         Some allege that to disallow deductions for religious textbooks (as the Minnesota law does) will force the government to become entangled with the religious school as they must monitor which textbooks are appropriate.

·         However, the Court points to other provisions that the State must enforce in religious schools without becoming entangled with the religions.

Concurrences/Dissents:

School District of Grand Rapids v. Ball 1985

473 U.S. 373 (1985)

Facts: 

·         Grand Rapids School District offered Shared Time and Community Education Programs that involved the renting of nonpublic school classrooms with public expense to be used to instruct nonpublic school students.

·         Shared Time classes were offered during the regular school day and supplemented the core curriculum.

·         Community Education classes were voluntary and offered after normal school hours.

·         Both types of classes were taught by publicly employed teachers.

·         Taxpayers sued claiming that this program violated the Establishment Clause.

·         Significance: This decision is another example of the Court’s reluctance to allow public employees to act as instructors within nonpublic schools.; The impressionability of the young students and the chance of unintentionally adding to their indoctrination is sufficient to invalidate this attempt to offer them additional education

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; The Court invalidated the programs because they had the primary effect of advancing religion.

Concurrences/Dissents:

;;;;;;;;; Concurrence: Brennan

;;;;;;;;; The programs may advance religion in three ways:

o;;; (1) the teachers may inadvertently become involved in religious indoctrination

o;;; (2) the programs may constitute a symbolic link between the government and the religions

o;;; (3) the programs may serve as a subsidy to the religious schools.

;;;;;;;;; The invalidation of these laws is not meant to demonstrate a disfavor with the role of nonpublic schools. Rather the decision is based strictly on applying the Establishment Clause.

;;;;;;;;; Dissenting: O;Conner-The Shared Time program in question is constitutional because it does not “inoculate religion at public expense” and for the reasons advanced in the dissent to Aguilar. 473 U.S. 402

;;;;;;;;; Dissenting: White – The program is constitutional based on the reasoning found in the case decision of Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty v. Nyquist. 413 U.S. 756

Aguilar v. Felton 1985

473 U.S. 402 (1985)

Facts:;

;;;;;;;;; New York City allowed for the reimbursement of the salaries of public employees who taught in parochial schools (Title I program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965).

;;;;;;;;; The teachers were sent there to assist low-income children with special needs.

;;;;;;;;; The city selected the teachers and supervised their instruction.

;;;;;;;;; A group of taxpayers brought suit claiming that the program violated the Establishment Clause.

;;;;;;;;; Significance: Although the Court recognizes that the intent of the statute was secular, the potential for religious advancement makes it unconstitutional.;

;;;;;;;;; Once again the Court is weary of allowing public instructors into religious classrooms for fear that they may engage in religious instruction.

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; In a 5-4 decision, the Court invalidated New York City’s plan to pay the salaries of public employees who offered remedial assistance to low-income students.

·         the Court concluded that such aid violated both the primary effect and entanglement prongs of the Lemon test

·          

Concurrences/Dissents:

·         Majority Opinion-Brennan-The supervision New York City uses to ensure that the public employees do not engage in religious instruction creates excessive entanglement between the government and religion.

·         Even though the state’s aid to the parochial school does not have the primary effect of advancing religion, the closeness of the interaction between the two bodies has that result.

;;;;;;;;; “In short, the religious school, which has as a primary purpose the advancement and preservation of a particular religion must endure the ongoing presence of state personnel whose primary purpose is to monitor teachers and students in an attempt to guard against the infiltration of religious thought.”

;;;;;;;;; Additionally, the state will be required to work with the religious schools to coordinate schedules and any problems that might result.

;;;;;;;;; Dissent-Burger – Finding this statute unconstitutional “under the guise of protect[ing] Americans from the evils of an Established Church” will force many students to be denied, “desperately needed remedial teaching services.”; The statute does not create a relevant threat to religious liberty and is necessary to promote the beneficial secular end of education.

;;;;;;;;; Justice O’Connor called the Court’s decision “tragic” for the needy children cut off from this necessary service. Instead of promoting justice for these students, “The Court deprives them of a program that offers a meaningful chance at success in life.”

Witters v. Washington Department of Services for the Blind 1986

474 U.S. 481 (1986)

Facts:;

;;;;;;;;; A student attending a Christian college in the State of Washington was suffering from a progressive visual condition which made him eligible for state vocational rehabilitation assistance to blind persons.

;;;;;;;;; He was studying to become a pastor, missionary, or youth director.

;;;;;;;;; He applied to a state agency for rehabilitation assistance consisting of

;;;;;;;;; payments for his education, but the agency denied him assistance on the ground that his training constituted religious instruction for which the state constitution prohibited the use of public funds.

;;;;;;;;; The student sought judicial review of the agency’s decision in the Spokane County Superior Court, which affirmed the agency’s decision.

;;;;;;;;; The Washington Supreme Court, while also affirming the agency’s decision, expressly reserved judgment on the state constitutional issue, but held that providing aid to the student would violate the establishment clause of the Federal Constitution’s First Amendment, since the provision of financial assistance by the state to enable someone to become a pastor, missionary, or church youth director would have the primary effect of advancing religion.

;

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; State rehabilitation aid payments to blind student for education at Christian college held not to advance religion in manner inconsistent with establishment clause of First Amendment.

Concurrences/Dissents:

Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District 1993

509 U.S. 1 (1993)

Facts:;

;;;;;;;;; The parents of a deaf child, James Zobrest, sued their school district after it failed to provide a sign language interpreter for their son who attended a Catholic school.

;;;;;;;;; They claimed that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the First Amendment;s free exercise clause compelled the school to provide the interpreter.

;;;;;;;;; Both the federal district and appellate courts rejected this claim.

;;;;;;;;; The Ninth Circuit applied the Lemon test, and concluded that the supply of such an interpreter violated the “effects” prong of that test.

;;;;;;;;; The point in Witters, which was significant for the Court in this case, is that any aid that flowed to the religious institutions did so only as a result of the genuinely independent and private choices of aid recipients.

;;;;;;;;; Here, too, the aid flowed to the parents of the deaf student, and they could have chosen to use the aid in a variety of school settings. The fact that they chose to the interpreter in a Catholic school did not remove the indirect character and general availability of the aid, as well as the choice of options possessed by the parents.

;

;;;;;;;;; Significance – This decision permitted public employees to work in parochial schools. The function served by the interpreter would not be considered religious even though the person would be translating religiously based information.; The Court also determined that this assistance did not relieve the religious school of a burden that it otherwise would have borne independently.

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; The Supreme Court decided 5-4 to require the school district to offer Zobrest the sign language interpreter.

Concurrences/Dissents:

;;;;;;;;; Majority opinion ; Rehnquist – The Court has consistently held that programs that neutrally offer assistance to a class of citizens are not subject to Establishment Clause challenges merely because the beneficiary is a religious organization.

;;;;;;;;; In this case, the parochial school is not being relieved of any financial burden that they otherwise would have to bear (as in the case of purchasing textbooks or other supplies for religious schools).

;;;;;;;;; The sign language interpreter receiving the public funding will not add to the religious environment in which Zobrest;s parents chose to place their son.

;;;;;;;;; Dissent ; BlackmunThe Court should not decide cases based on hypothetical situation or act as an advisory board.; It is not clear that the statute required, or prohibited, the government to provide an interpreter for a nonpublic religious school.; Therefore, the case should be remanded back to the state so that this issue can be decided.; To deliver a decision now without needing to is to “unnecessarily address an important constitutional issue, disregarding longstanding principles of constitutional adjudication.”

Kiryas Joel Board of Education v. Grumet 1994

512 U.S. 687 (1994)

Facts:;

;;;;;;;;; In 1989, the New York legislature drew boundaries for a school district in accordance with the village of Kiryas Joel.

;;;;;;;;; The area was overwhelmingly occupied by people who practiced Satmar Hasidim, a strict form of Judaism.

;;;;;;;;; A group of taxpayers sued claiming that the school district had limited access.

;;;;;;;;; Significance – The Court prevented governments from using the religious affiliation of a group of people as a central consideration in reaching decisions.; Doing so violates the neutrality requirement to which the government must abide.

Conclusion/Decision:

;;;;;;;;; In a 6-3 decision, the Court determined that the boundary was unconstitutionally drawn to include only those people who lived in the area occupied by the members of the strict Jewish group.

Concurrences/Dissents:

;;;;;;;;; Majority ; Souter – The uniqueness of this case prevents the Court from determining whether the Jewish group are merely the beneficiaries of a neutral decision available to other groups. The boundaries drawn by the legislature violate the Establishment Clause. The decision creates a “fusion” of government and religious objectives. “That individuals who happen to be religious may hold public office does not mean that a state may deliberately delegate discretionary power to an individual, institution, or community on the ground of religious identity.” The area’s religious make-up was the defining element in the decision of where the boundaries should be drawn. As a result, the boundary was not drawn in a neutral manner and the State is using its resources to assist the practitioners of the Satmar faith.

·         DissentsScalia, Rehnquist and ThomasJustice Scalia authored this long dissent, in which he argued that the action of the New York Legislature constituted an “admirabl[e” American accommodation “of the religious practices (or more precisely, cultural peculiarities) of a tiny minority sect.”

Rosenberger v. Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia 1995

515 U.S. 819 (1995)

Facts: 

·         Christian student newspaper publication at the Univ. of Virginia. 

·         Considered a CIO with the University, applied for funding to produce a religious publication.

·         UVA denied funding citing a university policy to not provide university aide to a religious organization.

·          

 

Conclusion/Decision:

·         a divided Court (5-4) held that it was a violation of the First Amendment Speech Clause but not transgressory of the Establishment Clauses for a state entity (the University of Virginia) to refuse to fund the costs of a student Christian newspaper when the money to pay for that newspaper was derived from a mandatory student assessment of $14 per student/per semester.

·         This case was the first Supreme Court case holding that it was permissible to give direct financial aid to an organization (and its press) that was avowedly religious in its operation, though the Court never used the language of “pervasively sectarian” to describe the student organization.

Concurrences/Dissents:

·         Majority – Kennedy – argued that the case providing most guidance was Lamb’s Chapel, a 1993 case upholding the ability of a church to use public school property in nonschool hours for showing a film with a religious viewpoint on child rearing and family issues.

;;;;;;;;; That is, once a “limited public forum” is made open for discussion of an issue, the public entity may not restrict viewpoints to be heard.

;;;;;;;;; it was discrimination against the Christian “viewpoint” not to provide funds for the Christian publication.

;;;;;;;;; Dissent ; Scalia – After several quotations from the student publication showing its evangelistic purpose, the dissenters argued that this case transgressed Establishment Clause jurisprudence because it provided for direct financial aid to an organization that puts out an obviously sectarian newspaper.

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