Summary of Everson v. Bd of Ed., 330 U.S. 1 (1947)
Facts: NJ enacted a law that gave School Dist authority to make rules and K’s pertaining to the transportation of children to and from schools. Bd of Ed authorized reimbursement of money paid by parents for bus transportation of their kids who rode public transit to school. Some of this money was paid for the transportation of some kids to parochial schools–Catholic.
Issue(s): Whether the NJ statute or the Bd resolution, authorizing the reimbursement of tax funds to parents with students of parochial schools, unconstitutionally regulates the establishment of religion?
Holding: No, under the facts the 1st Amend does not bar NJ from spending tax funds to pay the bus fares of parochial students under a general program that reimburses the fares of students who attend other schools. As a general program NJ law is neutral in its application.
Procedure: Txpr filed suit in St Ct challenging the right to reimburse parents of parochial school students. NJ ct of App held that law nor resolution violated State or Fed Const. U.S.S.Ct. Affirmed.
Rule(s): 1st and 14th Amend.
Rationale: The 1st Amend was intended to serve as a barrier against Govt intrusion on religious liberty and to strip Govt of all power to tax, support, or assist any or all religions, or to interfere with the beliefs of any religious individual or group. This is a Broad meaning.
At a minimum fed Govt cannot create a church; cannot pass law to aid one, all; nor force anyone to go to or remain away from church or profess belief or disbelief; nor punish for professing a belief or non-belief; and Govt cannot tax to support any religious activities/institutions or participate in any manner in the affairs of any religious body. A WALL must be erected Between Church and State, that wall must be kept high and impregnable.
NJ can’t use tax funds to support a religious body, but NJ cannot hamper a person’s ability to freely exercise their own religion.
1st Amend requires the state to be neutral in its relations w/ groups of religious believers and non-believers, but not that the state must be their adversary. State power is no more to be used to restrict religion than to favor them.
DISSENT: 1st Amend bars both the introduction of religious education into public schools and it forbids the collection of public funds for the aid and support of private religious schools. This prohibition is absolute and cannot be measured by the quantity of money expended.
Pl’s A: (Txpr) State law and Bd resolution authorizing reimbursement to parochial parents constitutes an authorization by the state to “take" by taxation private property of some and give it to others to be used for their private religious purposes; and both force citizens to pay taxes to support and maintain parochial schools. Cannot pass laws respecting establishment of religion.