Case Name: Everson v. Board of Education ? Year Case Decided by Supreme Court: 1947 ? Facts that triggered the dispute: After New Jersey passed a law which authorized school districts to provide transportation to private school students, Ewing Township decided to use tax dollars to reimburse parents for the transportation costs of sending their kids private schools, including schools with religious affiliation. Specifically, in Ewing the reimbursement would cover the three nearest public schools and four private schools, all of which were Catholic. Arch Everson of Ewing fought the rule arguing that the money collected from tax payers like himself, supported a specific religion and thus violated the establishment clause. Statute: Everson filed suit to challenge the New Jersey Statute which authorized local school boards who provided transportation to public school children to also provide transportation to students who opted to attend nonprofit private schools. Provision of the Constitution: Everson argued that the New Jersey statute violated the First and Fourteenth amendments to the constitution, specifically, the Establishment clause. Legal Question: Does New Jersey’s use of tax payer funding for the transportation of Catholic school students violate the Establishment clause of the constitution? Outcome: In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of the Board of Education of the Township of Ewing.
? Legal Reasoning of the Majority: In delivering the opinion of the Court, Justice Black stated that: ?a. The busing and police/fire protections providedto parochial schools are not actually related to the religious functioning ofthe school, but rather are their own separate entity. Therefore, providingreimbursements for bussing would not violate the First amendment, becausereligion is not actually a component in the funding.
b. ?The law did not directly paymoney to parochial schools, nor did it provide any direct support to theschools. Rather, it was a “general program,” which provided no preference to aparticular religion but rather aided all parents in getting bussing for theirchildren. Legal Doctrine: Theopinion in Everson led to more statelegislatures providing assistance programs to church-sponsored schools. It alsoenergized religious activists, leading to an increase in state aid casesappearing before the Supreme Court.
10. Other points of View: Justice Jackson dissenting: Jackson’s dissent was comprised of two main arguments. i. The payments were not aiding in the safety ofthe children. Rather, the children would be safely bussed to school whether theparents were reimbursed for the costs or not. By arguing that this statute wasnot to ensure safety, he was disagreeing notion that reimbursements serve asimilar function to fire or police protection, rather than a religious one.
ii. Justice Jackson also argued it was an unfairruling because children in public and private Catholic schools were beingaided, but not students who attending schools that were operated even partiallyfor profit. Justice Rutledge dissenting: The intent of the First Amendment was to create complete separation between the church and state. The decision of the court is contrary to that original intent. He argues that the transportation funding is indirectly aiding the Catholic schools and that you cannot create a complete separation from the religious component as Justice Black would argue.