Swiped from e_juliana @ 05:51 pm
The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historic to your lj. (Any decision, as long as it's not Roe v. Wade.) For those who see this on your f-list, take the meme to your OWN lj to spread the fun. (If you wish, of course.)
Go forth, and edumacate!
For me, the case has to be one from a native Rochestarian, McCollum v. Board of Education
McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948), was a landmark case ruled upon by the United States Supreme Court in 1948, and related to the power of a state to use its tax-supported public school system in aid of religious instruction. The case was an early test of the separation of church and state with respect to education.
The case tested the principle of "released time", where public schools set aside class time for religious instruction. The Court's ruling struck down the Champaign, Illinois program as unconstitutional, using as a basis for its judgment the involvement of the public school system in the administration, organization and support of the religious instruction classes. The Court's ruling noted that some 2,000 communities nationwide offered similar "released time" programs affecting 1.5 million students.
The case was brought by Vashti McCollum, the mother of a student enrolled in the Champaign public school district.
In 1940, a number of interested members of various Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths formed an association named the Champaign Council on Religious Education. This association sought and obtained permission from the Champaign Board of Education to offer voluntary religious education classes for public school students from grades four to nine. These weekly 30- and 45-minute classes were led by clergy and lay members of the association in public school classrooms during school hours.
McCollum — an avowed atheist — objected to the religious classes, and stated that her son James was ostracized for not attending the religious classes. After complaints to school officials to stop offering these classes went unheeded, McCollum sued the school board in July 1945, stating that the religious instruction in the public schools violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment — the principle of separation of church and state in the United States. McCollum also complained that the school district's religious education classes violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The principal elements of the McCollum complaint were that
- In actual practice certain Protestant groups exercised an advantage over other Protestant denominations.
- Though defined by the school district as "voluntary", this designation was in name only because of pressure exerted by school officials on students to coerce or force their participation.
- The power exercised by the Champaign Council on Religious Education in its selection of instructors, and the school superintendent's oversight of these instructors served to determine which religious faiths participate in the instructional program, and constituted a prior censorship of religion.
In her suit, McCollum asked that the Board of Education be ordered to "adopt and enforce rules and regulations prohibiting all instruction in and teaching of all religious education in all public schools in Champaign District Number 71, and in all public school houses and buildings in said district when occupied by public schools."
McCollum appealed the case to the U. S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case, taking oral arguments in December 1947. On March 8, 1948, the Court ruled 8-1 in favor of McCollum, ruling that the classes were unconstitutional.
In the majority opinion, written by Justice Hugo Black, the Court held that
|“||[The facts] show the use of tax-supported property for religious instruction and the close cooperation between the school authorities and the religious council in promoting religious education. The operation of the state's compulsory education system thus assists and is integrated with the program of religious instruction carried on by separate religious sects. Pupils compelled by law to go to school for secular education are released … in part from their legal duty upon the condition that they attend the religious classes. |
To hold that a state cannot consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments utilize its public school system to aid any or all religious faiths or sects in the dissemination of their doctrines and ideals does not … manifest a governmental hostility to religion or religious teachings. … For the First Amendment rests upon the premise that both religion and government can best work to achieve their lofty aims if each is left free from the other within its respective sphere.
The lone dissenting justice, Stanley Forman Reed, objected to the breadth of the majority's interpretation of the Establishment Clause and stated that an incidental support of religion should have been permissible with a more narrow reading of the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court's ruling remanded the case to the Illinois high court for relief consistent with the federal ruling.
The high court revisited the issue of religious instruction in Zorach v. Clauson in 1952. The 6 to 3 ruling in the later case held that a New York program allowing religious education during the school day was permissible, because it did not use public school facilities or public funds.