Saturday, December 7, 2013

Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty v. Regan case brief

Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty v. Regan case brief summary
444 U.S. 646 (1980)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant public education committee challenged an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which sustained a state statute authorizing the use of public funds to reimburse church-sponsored and secular nonpublic schools for performing various testing services mandated by state law. Appellant claimed that the statute violatedU.S. Constitutional Amendment I and U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV.

CASE FACTS
Appellant public education committee challenged a state statute that appropriated public funds to reimburse both church-sponsored and secular nonpublic schools for performing various services mandated by the state as violative of U.S. Constitutional Amendment I and U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV. The lower court concluded that the statute did not violate the Constitution and appellant sought review.

DISCUSSION
  • The court affirmed the lower court's decision. 
  • The court found that the state statutory reimbursement scheme had a secular legislative purpose, as the enactment was guided by the goal of providing quality educational opportunity to state citizens. 
  • The court found that the statute's principal effect neither advanced nor inhibited religion, as the plan called for state prepared tests addressing secular academic subjects to be administered on the premises by nonpublic school personnel, which precluded the nonpublic school from controlling the content of the tests or their results. 
  • The court also found that the scheme did not foster excessive entanglement with religion, as reimbursable services were discrete and clearly identifiable and the state's process of reimbursement was straightforward.
CONCLUSION
An order upholding the constitutionality of a state statute to use public funds to reimburse church-sponsored schools for the performance of testing services as required by state law was affirmed on the grounds that the goal was to provide educational opportunities to state citizens, the nonpublic school did not control the content of the tests, and the reimbursement process was customary to most reimbursement schemes.


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