Opinions & Commentaries

A law of the State of New York requires local public school authorities to lend textbooks free of charge to all students in grades seven through 12; students attending private schools are included. This case presents the question whether this statute is a "law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," and so in conflict with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, because it authorizes the loan of textbooks to students attending parochial schools. We hold that the law is not in violation of the Constitution.

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Rhode Island's 1969 Salary Supplement Act provides for a 15% salary supplement to be paid to teachers in nonpublic schools at which the average per-pupil expenditure on secular education is below the average in public schools. Eligible teachers must teach only courses offered in the public schools, using only materials used in the public schools, and must agree not to teach courses in religion. A three-judge court found that about 25% of the State's elementary students attended nonpublic schools, about 95% of whom attended Roman Catholic affiliated schools, and that to date about 250 teachers at Roman Catholic schools are the sole beneficiaries under the Act. The court found that the parochial school system was "an integral part of the religious mission of the Catholic Church," and held that the Act fostered "excessive entanglement" between government and religion, thus violating the Establishment Clause. Pennsylvania's Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Education Act, passed in 1968, authorizes the state Superintendent of Public Instruction to "purchase" certain "secular educational services" from nonpublic schools, directly reimbursing those schools solely for teachers' salaries, textbooks, and instructional materials. Reimbursement is restricted to courses in specific secular subjects, the textbooks and materials must be approved by the Superintendent, and no payment is to be made for any course containing "any subject matter expressing religious teaching, or the morals or forms of worship of any sect." Contracts were made with schools that have more than 20% of all the students in the State, most of which were affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. The complaint challenging the constitutionality of the Act alleged that the church-affiliated schools are controlled by religious organizations, have the purpose of propagating and promoting a particular religious faith, and conduct their operations to fulfill that purpose.

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403 U.S. 672 (1971) TILTON ET AL. v. RICHARDSON, SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE, ET AL.   No. 153. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued March 2-3, 1971. Decided June 28, 1971. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT.*674 Leo Pfeffer argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Peter L. Costas, Paul W. Orth, and Jerry Wagner. Daniel M. Friedman argued the cause for appellees Richardson et al. On the brief were Solicitor General Griswold, Assistant Attorney General Ruckelshaus, Robert V. Zener, and Donald L. Horowitz. F. Michael Ahern, […]

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Following this Court's invalidation in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U. S. 602 (Lemon I) of Pennsylvania's statutory program to reimburse nonpublic sectarian schools (hereafter school) for secular educational services, the District Court, on remand, enjoined any payments under the program for services rendered after Lemon I, but permitted Pennsylvania to reimburse the schools for service performed prior to that decision. Appellants challenge the scope of this decree. Held: The judgment is affirmed. Pp. 411 U. S. 197-209. 348 F.Supp. 300, affirmed.

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We are asked to decide whether Chapter 138 of New York State's Laws of 1970, under which the State reimburses private schools throughout the State for certain costs of testing and recordkeeping, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A three-judge District Court, with one judge dissenting, held the Act unconstitutional. 342 F. Supp. 439 (SDNY 1972). We noted probable jurisdiction. 409 U. S. 977.

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Appellant, a South Carolina taxpayer, brought this action to challenge the South Carolina Educational Facilities Authority Act (the Act), S. C. Code Ann. § 22-41 *736 et seq. (Supp. 1971), as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment insofar as it authorizes a proposed financing transaction involving the issuance of revenue bonds for the benefit of the Baptist College at Charleston (the College).[1] The trial court's denial of relief was affirmed by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. 255 S. C. 71, 177 S. E. 2d 362 (1970). This Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case for reconsideration in light of the intervening decisions in Lemon v. Kurtzman, Earley v. DiCenso, and Robinson v. DiCenso, 403 U. S. 602 (1971); and Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U. S. 672 (1971). 403 U. S. 945 (1971). On remand, the Supreme Court of South Carolina adhered to its earlier position. 258 S. C. 97, 187 S. E. 2d 645 (1972). We affirm.

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On June 28, 1971, this Court handed down Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U. S. 602, in which Pennsylvania's "Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Education Act" was held unconstitutional as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. That law authorized the State to reimburse nonpublic, sectarian schools for their expenditures on teachers' salaries, textbooks, and instructional materials used in specified "secular" courses. *827 The Court's ruling was premised on its determination that the restrictions and state supervision required to guarantee that the specified aid would benefit only the nonreligious activities of the schools would foster "excessive entanglement" between government and religion. Id., at 620-622.

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These cases raise a challenge under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the constitutionality of a recently enacted New York law which provides financial assistance, in several ways, to nonpublic elementary and secondary schools in that State. The cases involve an intertwining of societal and constitutional issues of the greatest importance.

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Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U. S. C. § 241a et seq., provides for federal funding of special programs for educationally deprived children in both public and private schools.

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Overruled

421 U.S. 349 (1975) MEEK ET AL. v. PITTENGER, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, ET AL.   No. 73-1765. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued February 19, 1975. Decided May 19, 1975. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA.*351 Leo Pfeffer and William P. Thorn argued the cause and filed briefs for appellants. J. Justin Blewitt, Jr., Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, argued the cause for appellees Pittenger et al. With him on the brief was Israel Packel, Attorney General. William Bentley Ball argued the cause for appellees Diaz et al. With him on the […]

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426 U.S. 736 (1976) ROEMER ET AL. v. BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS OF MARYLAND ET AL.   No. 74-730. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued February 23, 1976. Decided June 21, 1976. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND.*739 Lawrence S. Greenwald argued the cause for appellants. With him on the brief was Melvin L. Wulf. George A. Nilson, Assistant Attorney General of Maryland, and Paul R. Connolly argued the cause for appellees. With Mr. Nilson on the brief for appellees Board of Public Works of Maryland et al. were Francis B. Burch, Attorney […]

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Overruled

433 U.S. 229 (1977) WOLMAN ET AL. v. WALTER ET AL.   No. 76-496. Supreme Court of the United States.   Argued April 25, 1977. Decided June 24, 1977. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO.*232 Joshua J. Kancelbaum argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Nelson G. Karl, Donald M. Robiner, and Joel M. Gora. Thomas V. Martin, Assistant Attorney General of Ohio, argued the cause for the state appellees. With him on the brief were William J. Brown, Attorney General, and Lawrence H. Braun. David J. Young argued […]

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In April of 1972 a three-judge United States District Court for the Southern District of New York declared unconstitutional New York's Mandated Services Act, 1970 N. Y. Laws, *127 ch. 138, which authorized fixed payments to nonpublic schools as reimbursement for the cost of certain recordkeeping and testing services required by state law. Committee for Public Education & Religious Liberty v. Levitt, 342 F. Supp. 439. The court's order permanently enjoined any payments under the Act, including reimbursement for expenses that schools had already incurred in the last half of the 1971-1972 school year.[1] This Court subsequently affirmed that judgment. Levitt v. Committee for Public Education, 413 U. S. 472.

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The issue in this case is the constitutionality under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution of a New York statute authorizing the use of public funds to reimburse church-sponsored and secular nonpublic schools for performing various testing and reporting services mandated by state law. The District Court sustained the statute. Committee for Public Education v. Levitt, 461 F. Supp. 1123 (1978). We noted probable jurisdiction, 442 U. S. 928 (1979), and now affirm the District Court's judgment.

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Minnesota allows taxpayers, in computing their state income tax, to deduct certain expenses incurred in providing for the education of their children. Minn. Stat. § 290.09, subd. 22 (1982).[1] The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, was not offended by this arrangement. Because this question was reserved in Committee for Public Education v. Nyquist, 413 U. S. 756 (1973), and because *391 of a conflict between the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and that of the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Rhode Island Federation of Teachers v. Norberg, 630 F. 2d 855 (CA1 1980), we granted certiorari. 459 U. S. 820 (1982). We now affirm.

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Overruled (in part)

The School District of Grand Rapids, Michigan, adopted two programs in which classes for nonpublic school students are financed by the public school system, taught by teachers hired by the public school system, and conducted in "leased" classrooms in the nonpublic schools. Most of the nonpublic schools involved in the programs are sectarian religious schools. This case raises the question whether these programs impermissibly involve the government in the support of sectarian religious activities and thus violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

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Overruled

New York City used federal funds received under the Title I program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to pay the salaries of public school employees who taught in parochial schools in the city. That program authorized federal financial assistance to local educational institutions to meet the needs of educationally deprived children from low-income families. The city made the teacher assignments, and the teachers were supervised by field personnel who monitor the Title I classes. Appellee city taxpayers brought an action in Federal District Court, alleging that the Title I program administered by the city violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and seeking injunctive relief.

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The Washington Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment precludes the State of Washington from extending assistance under a state vocational rehabilitation assistance program to a blind person studying at a Christian college and seeking to become a pastor, missionary, or youth director. Finding no such federal constitutional barrier on the record presented to us, we reverse and remand.

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Petitioner James Zobrest, who has been deaf since birth, asked respondent school district to provide a sign-language interpreter to accompany him to classes at a Roman Catholic high school in Tucson, Arizona, pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U. S. C. § 1400 et seq., and its Arizona counterpart, Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15761 et seq. (1991 and Supp. 1992). The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided, however, that provision of such a publicly employed interpreter would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. We hold that the Establishment Clause does not bar the school district from providing the requested interpreter.

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In Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U. S. 402, 413, this Court held that New York City's program that sent public school teachers into parochial schools to provide remedial education to disadvantaged children pursuant to Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 necessitated an excessive entanglement of church and state and violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. On remand, the District Court entered a permanent injunction reflecting that ruling. Some 10 years later, petitioners-the parties bound by the injunction-filed motions in the same court seeking relief from the injunction's operation under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5). They emphasized the significant costs of complying with Aguilar and the assertions of five Justices in Board of Ed. of Kiryas Joel Village School Dist. v. Grumet, 512 U. S. 687, that Aguilar should be reconsidered, and argued that relief was proper under Rule 60(b)(5) and Rufo v. Inmates of Suffolk County Jail, 502 U. S. 367, 388, because Aguilar cannot be squared with this Court's intervening Establishment Clause jurisprudence and is no longer good law.

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530 U.S. 793 (2000) MITCHELL et al. v. HELMS et al.   No. 98-1648. United States Supreme Court.   Argued December 1, 1999. Decided June 28, 2000. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT*795 *795 *796 *797 *798 *799 Thomas, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and Scalia and Kennedy, JJ., joined. O’Connor, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which *800 Breyer, J., joined, post, p. 836. Souter, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens and Ginsburg, JJ., joined, post, p. […]

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The State of Ohio has established a pilot program designed to provide educational choices to families with children who *644 reside in the Cleveland City School District. The question presented is whether this program offends the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. We hold that it does not.

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The State of Washington established the Promise Scholarship Program to assist academically gifted students with postsecondary education expenses. In accordance with the State Constitution, students may not use the scholarship at an institution where they are pursuing a degree in devotional theology. We hold that such an exclusion from an otherwise inclusive aid program does not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

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