Supreme Court Decisions on Religious School Issues
A series of US Supreme Court cases have impacted the way in which the federal government and states may provides services and benefits to parents and students in private and religious schools. Cases are listed in chronological order.
- 1925 - Pierce v. Society of Sisters of the Holy Names
- 1930 - Cochran v. Louisiana State Board of Education
- 1947 - Everson v. Board of Education
- 1968 - Board of Education v. Allen
- 1970 - Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York
- 1971 - Lemon v. Kurtzman and Earley v. Dicenso
- 1973 - Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty v. Nyquist
- 1975 - Meek v. Pittenger
- The Court upheld programs that utilized public funds and/or employees to provide students in private schools with textbook loans and approved instructional materials and various auxiliary services (speech, hearing) had neither the primary effect of aiding religion or danger of fostering excessive government entanglement with religion where services were provided to specific children on an individualized basis.
- The Court invalidated the instructional equipment loan program to the extent that it sanctioned the loan of equipment "which from its nature can be diverted to religious purposes", such as movie projectors that could be used to show sectarian films. Read the decision
- 1983 - Mueller v. Allen
- 1985 - Aguilar v. Felton
- 1985 - Grand Rapids v. Ball
- 1986 - Witters v. Washington Dept. of Services for the Blind
- 1993 - Zorbrest v. Catalina Foothills School District
- 1997 - Agostini v. Felton
- 2000 - Mitchell v. Helms
- 2002 - Zelman v. Simmons-Harris
- 2004- Locke v. Davey
- 2007- Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association v. Brentwood Academy
- 2011- Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn et al.
- 2012 - Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) et al.
School Choice Cases Not Reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court
- Milwaukee: Voucher Case. 1998: Jackson v. Benson -- challenge to the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program that allowed publicly funded vouchers to be used in sectarian schools. The Court declined to hear the case, allowing the Wisconsin Supreme Court's ruling in favor of the program to stand
- Arizona: Tax Credit Case. 1999: Kotterman v. Killian -- challenged the Arizona tax credit law that allows taxpayers to claim a credit for donations to a nonprofit organization that distributes scholarships or tuition grants to private and parochial schools or for fees paid to a public school for extra-curricular activities. The Court allowed to stand the Arizona Supreme Court ruling that found the law does not violate state and federal constitutional prohibitions against government aid to religion. An additional challenge to the same program reached the U.S. Supreme Court and the program was upheld in 2011.
- Maine: Tuitioning Cases. 1999: Bagley v. Raymond School Department - the Court declined to hear the case from the Maine Supreme Court that had ruled that Maine's exclusion of religious schools from its school choice program was required by the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The U.S. Supreme Court also declined to review a similar decision of the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals in Strout v. Albanese, which raised the same issue.
- Vermont: Exclusion of Religious Schools from Tuitioning. 1999: Andrews v. Vermont Department of Education - U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court, which rejected a claim by Vermont parents that their federal free-exercise rights were being violated by the refusal of the state to include religious schools in the state's "tuitioning" program.