When is Government Aid to Parochial Schools permissible?
Context of gov’t assistance to religious schools, over time court has taken 3
different approaches to this:
Gov’t may give aid to parochial schools that is the same in public schools so long
as it cannot likely be used in religious education. SC followed this from 1943-2000
SC said Gov’t can provide buses to take children to and from Parochial school if
providing buses to take children to and from Public school, b/c it is the same aid given to
public school, and a bus won’t be used for religious instruction. Gov’t also said Gov’t
can’t provide buses to field trips- bc field trips may be for religious purposes- gov’t
monitoring what field trip is for would be too much gov’t entanglement in religion (3
Lemon Test violation)
Gov’t can provide textbooks to children in religious schools as long as they are
secular and provided to public school students BUT SC said gov’t can’t provide
audio/visual equipment even if its provided to public schools, b/c could be used for
Summary: Government may provide aid to parochial schools so long as also
provided to public schools and so long as it is not actually used in religious instruction.
Could use computers and AV equip so long as not used in religious instruction- in a
contractual way the school would agree not to use it for religious purpose and
government would have to monitor that. – never defined what is a religious use, although,
teach Bible, prayer, etc would be. – using common sense approach when saying it can’t
be used for religious instruction.
Gov’t may provide aid to parochial schools even if it is used in religious
instruction so long as the same thing is given to public schools and the gov’t is not
discriminating against religion.
In 2000- Mitchell vs. Helms, in Louisiana state wanted to give electronic
equipment to all public and private schools in the state, including religious schools. SC
split 3, souter, stevens, ginsberg, (take 1
approach) -2-o’connor and breyer (2
approach) 4- Rehnquist, Scalia, kennedy, Thomas (3
approach). Among them.
6 votes to allow the aid. 5 that said can’t be used for religious instruction, 3 that
wouldn’t allow at all.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the approaches,
Strict separationists take the 1
, neutrality take 2
, accomodationists take 3
approach and 2
approach is that tax money will be used for religious
con would be that the money would go inevitably to majority religions. –
James Madison, nothing more despicable than taxes going to religion.
If you pay for public schools but not for parochial school is that discriminating