Study Guide

Terms

Terms

Abington School District v. Schempp

In this 1963 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a Pennsylvania law requiring the reading of Biblical scriptures in public schools was a violation of the establishment clause. The Court rejected the state’s argument that the daily exercise was designed to teach moral values, not religious doctrine.

Agostini v. Felton

In this 1997 case, the United States Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision (Aguilar v. Felton) that a New York City program designed to provide tutoring and remedial education services to low-income children could not deliver these service on a religious school campus. Holding that allowing public employees to provide tutoring on a religious school campus would not constitute a "symbolic union" of church and state, the Court held that the federally-funded program could deliver its services on a religious school campus without violating the establishment clause.

Cantwell v. Connecticut

In this 1940 case, the United States Supreme Court held that a local solicitation ordinance violated the First Amendment rights of two Jehovah’s Witnesses. In reaching this decision, the Court "incorporated" the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment making its terms applicable to the state governments as well as the federal government.

Child Benefit Theory

First advanced in reference to the First Amendment, by the United States Supreme Court in 1947 in Everson v. Board of Education, the child benefit theory is one of the primary tests for evaluating various forms of public aid to religious schools. If the student, rather than the religious school, is the primary beneficiary of the state aid, such as state financing for secular textbooks and other materials, and publicly funded transportation on public buses, then the aid does not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty v. Nyquist

In this 1973 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a New York program that reimbursed the parents of private school students for tuition expenses violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Only low-income families qualified. The funds were derived from general tax revenues.

Doctrine of Incorporation

This legal doctrine states that the restrictions and demands placed on the federal government by the Bill of Rights apply selectively to the states as well. Even though initially these restrictions and demands were addressed only to the federal government, they have been extended to the states by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment declares that the states may not "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." The Court has held that the protections extended under the Bill of Rights are central to our understanding of liberty and therefore "fundamental" to the states’ guarantee of due process of law.

Edwards v. Aguillard

In this 1987 case, the United States Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required the teaching of creationism alongside evolution. The Court ruled that the law failed to pass the criteria established in Lemon v. Kurtzman (the "Lemon Test")—that is, the law advanced a religious objective and it led to the excessive entanglement of church and state by mandating "the symbolic and financial support of government to achieve a religious purpose."

Wallace v. Jaffree

In this 1985 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that an Alabama law authorizing public school teachers to hold a minute of silence for "meditation or voluntary prayer" violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The Court held that the Alabama statute failed the Lemon Test by advancing a religious, rather than a secular, purpose.

Wisconsin v. Yoder

In this 1972 case, the United States Supreme Court concluded that the refusal of Amish parent to send their children to school until the age of sixteen, as required by law, was protected by the First Amendment.

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris

In this 2002 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Cleveland’s school voucher program did not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The Court held that since the program addressed a legitimate secular purpose of improving the educational options of poor children within an underperforming school system and since the vouchers, in the form of scholarships up to $2250, were made available to a large category of people who were then free to direct this money to the religious or non-religious school of their choice, the government program was neutral on religion and therefore not in violation of the First Amendment.

Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District

In this 1993 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the district could provide a sign language interpreter for a deaf child attending a Catholic high school without violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Zorach v. Clausen

In this 1952 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that New York’s "release time" program, which allowed public school students to leave school early in order to attend religion classes, was permissible because the religious instruction took place off school grounds. In an earlier case, McCollum v. Board of Education, the Court had ruled an Illinois release time program unconstitutional because the religious instruction occurred on public school grounds.