Summary of Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203 (1997)
Facts: Congress enacted Title I of Ed. Act (1965) to provide full educational opportunity to every child. Following the lengthy adjudication process Bd modified its Title I policies and rather than provide services at sectarian schools, provide services at public school sites; i.e. mobile units located at leased sites or parking lots near sectarian schools. Bd also offered computer instruction on premises of parochial schools b/c no on site instruction was needed. As a result of Aguilar the Bd incurred $100 mil in costs to provide computer aided instruction, leased sites, and mobile units, and thus reducing the Title I money available to eligible sectarian students.
Issue(s): Whether the Aguilar decision has become so eroded by subsequent Est Cl cases that it is no longer good law, and whether Petitioners are entitled under FRCP 60(b)(5) to be relieved of the injunction?
Holding: Aguilar is bad law; Injunction is lifted; and federally funded program that provides supplemental remedial instruction to disadvantaged kids on a neutral basis is not invalid under Est Cl when the instruction given by Govt E’ees on the sectarian premises so long as monitoring and religious govt buffers safeguards are in place.
Procedure: Prior case Aguilar v. Felton 1978: Resp’s here sued Bd for declaratory and Injunctive relief claiming Title I violated Est Cl. D Ct granted Summary to Bd. Ct of App Reversed. USSCt Affirmed on Excessive Entanglement issue: Est Cl prohibits NY from sending public teachers to parochial schools to provide remedial education under mandate by Congress. On remand D.Ct ordered permanent injunction banning public teachers, etc from providing services to kids at sectarian schools. 12 yrs later, while under that injunction, same parties Mot for relief from that order b/c of subsequent S.Ct. Decisions. D Ct denied Mot; Ct of App Affirmed; U.S.S.Ct Reversed Aguilar and w/ Instructions to vacate Injunction FRCP 60(b)(5).
Rule(s): 1st Amend; FRCP 60(b)(5); 20 U.S.C. §6301 (Title I).
Rationale: Pets did not establish a significant change in factual conditions sufficient to warrant modification. Kiryas’ by itself does not provide basis for determining Est Cl law has changed, majority only opined for reconsideration of Aguilar.
The 3 Ball assumptions: 1) any public E’ee working on sectarian premises is presumed to teach religion; 2) presence of Govt E’ee on premises of sectarian property created a symbolic union of church and state; 3) any and all public aid that directly aids educational functions at religious schools finances religion; and 1 Aguilar assumption: 1) b/c Govt E’ees teach on premises of religious schools, to avoid excessive Govt entanglement, under Title I requires close monitoring as a buffer, have been undermined.
First, Govt E’ee’s presence teaching at religious institutions does not create presumption of inculcation of religion to students or constitute a symbolic union. Zorbest
Second, not all Govt aid to religious schools is invalid. Thus, there is no effect of religious indoctrination or advancement of religion based on these premises. Witters
Not all entanglements have the effect of advancing or restricting religion. Entanglements must be excessive before held invalid under Est Cl.
DISSENT: In repudiating Aguilar and Ball the result is to authorize direct state aid to religious institutions on a grand scale in violation of Est Cl.
Pl’s A: (Pets) The excessive cost of complying with the injunction constitutes a significant factual change warranting modification of the order. Two significant legal decisions have issued where majority of U.S. S.Ct held Aguilar is no longer consistent with current Est Cl principles.