Supreme Court Church & State Decisions

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1. Government Intervention in Church Controversies

  • United States v. Ballard (1944): Sect called "I am" and property allegations; Justice Robert Jackson: "I would dismiss the indictment and have done with this business of judicially examining other people’s faith." Decided against, but later reversed.
  • Kedroff v. Saint Nicholas Cathedral (1952): Whether St. Nicholas was under authority of Moscow (Soviet) or American Orthodox Church; Court cannot make determinations because of separation and free exercise.
  • Presbyterian Church v. Hull Church (1969)
  • Jones v. Wolf (1979)

2. The Free Exercise of Religion

  • Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940): Selling tracts and arrested under local ordinance as commercial rather than religious; Court found it was protected by free exercise.
  • Jones v. Opelika I (1942): First decision that children must salute flag and say pledge of allegiance although against their religious beliefs, then:
  • Jones v. Opelika II (1943): Revisited above and found that children must not be forced to violate their religious scruples by standing, saluting flag, and saying pledge.
  • Murdock v. Pennsylvania (1943)
  • Minersville School District v. Gobitis (1940)
  • West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)
  • Cox v. New Hampshire (1941)
  • Prince v. Massachusetts (1944)
  • United States v. Schwimmer (1929): Woman applying for citizenship by naturalization would not swear to defend the country by arms and refused citizenship; appealed, Court agreed no naturalization.
  • United States v. Macintosh (1931): A professor applying for naturalization would not swear to defend the nation by arms and was refused; Court agreed.
  • Hamilton v. Regents of the Univerisity of California (1934): Univ. required all students to take a course in military science and tactics, and some students refused because of conscience; Court agreed with Univ.
  • Girouard v. United States (1946)
  • United States v. Seeger (1965)
  • Welsh v. United States (1970)
  • Gillette v. United States (1971)
  • Sherbert v. Verner (1963): Work on person’s sabbath "imposes an unconstitutional burden on the free exercise of her religion."
  • Trans World Airlines v. Hardison (1977):Work on person’s sabbath, but involved TWA, the employer, and the union in which each made adjustments based on seniority and other factors determined ahead of time; still could not satisfy.
  • Ohio Civil Rights Commission v. Dayton Christian Schools (1986)
  • Corporation of the Presiding Bishops of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Amos (1987)
  • Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (1990)

Free Exercise and Public Education

  • Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972): Amish who felt no high school because against their beliefs and social structures; affirmed.
  • Widmar v. Vincent (1981)
  • Board of Education of the Westside Community Schools v. Mergens(1990)
  • Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District (1993)
  • Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (1995)

Free Exercise and Taxation

  • United States v. Lee (1982)
  • Bob Jones University v. United States (1983): Tax exempt status challenged by IRS under IRC because Bob Jones discriminated against specified minorities; upheld.

Solicitation by Religious Groups

  • Heffron v. International Society for Krishna Consciousness (1981)

Free Exercise and Eminent Domain

  • Lying v. Northwest Indian CPA (1988)

Outlawing of Religious Sacrifice

  • Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (1993)

3. The Establishment of Religion

Standing to Sue

  • Flast v. Cohen (1968)
  • Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State (1982)
  • Bender v. Williamsport (1986)

Tax Exemption to Religious Institutions

  • Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York (1970)
  • Texas Monthly Inc. v. Bullock (1989)

Sunday Work

  • McGowan v. Maryland (1961)
  • Braunfeld v. Brown (1961)
  • Thorton v. Caldor (1985)

Religious Institution Functioning as a Government Agency

  • Larkin v. Grendel's Den
  • Bowen v. Kendrick (1988)
  • Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School v. Grumet (1994)

Unequal Government Treatment of Religious Groups

  • Larson v. Valente (1982)

Legislative Chaplains

  • Marsh v. Chambers (1983): Challenged the State paying clergy to pray before Legislative sessions; upheld because of long practice, going back to first Congress.

Government-Sponsored Nativity Scenes

  • Lynch v. Donnelly (1984)
  • County of Allegheny v. ACLU Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (1989)

Government Aid to Public Education (Important):

  • McCollum v. Board of Education (1948): Released time, which was popular during that time. Court found that teaching religion inside the schools by clergy (garb) was not allowed by the first amendment.
  • Zorach v. Clauson (1952)
  • Engel v. Vitale (1962): Prayer written and accepted by school board; other cases student prayers and Bible readings, including Murray and Santa Fe.
  • Abington Township School District v. Schempp (1963)
  • Epperson v. Arkansas (1968)
  • Stone v. Graham (1980)
  • Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)
  • Agostini v. Felton (1997)

Governmental Aid to Church-Related Schools

  • Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)
  • Cochran v. Louisiana State Board of Education (1930)
  • Everson v. Board of Education (1947): Taxpayer furnishing bus transportation to parochial school students, and specifically not addressing private schools for profit. Accepted. Caused much controversy in secular and religious. Washington Post: "…The fundamental error lies in the Court’s assumption that the intrinsic merit of a private activity, such as financing transportation to church schools, may transform it into a public welfare function."
  • Board of Education v. Allen (1968)
  • Witters v. Washington Department of Services for the Blind (1970)
  • Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971): Contract/arrangement in two states pay part of the costs in non-public schools for teaching of secular subjects, using same materials as public schools. Court found that schools were integral part of Catholic Church’s mission. Found "excessive entanglement" between government and religion. Impractical to verify the laws. "Political division along religious lines was one of the evils at which the First Amendment aimed, and in these programs, where successive and probably permanent annual appropriations that benefit relatively few religious groups are involved, political fragmentation and divisiveness on religious lines are likely to be intensified. …These innovative programs have self-perpetuating and self-expanding propensities which provide a warning signal against entanglement between government and religion."
  • Tilton v. Richardson (1971)
  • Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty v. Nyquist (1973)
  • Meek v. Pittenger (1975)
  • Roemer v. Board of Public Works of Maryland (1976)
  • Wolman v. Walter (1977)
  • Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty v. Regan (1980)
  • Mueller v. Allen (1983)
  • Aguilar v. Felton (1985)
  • Grand Rapids School District v. Ball (1985)
  • Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District (1993): Later, Mitchell v. Helms (2000). In a 6—3 ruling that taxpayer money can be used to buy computers and other instuctional materials for religious schools.

Prayer in Public Schools

  • Lee v. Weisman (1992): Clergy invited to pray at graduation ceremonies.

Teaching of Creationism in Public Schools

  • Edwards v. Aguillard (1987): Louisiana Law requiring teaching both; turned down because in the law and testimony in passing law made clear it was to further so-called creationism, and this is contrary to education without religion.