Sunday, December 8, 2013

Zorach v. Clauson case brief

Zorach v. Clauson case brief summary
343 U.S. 306 (1952)

Appellant taxpayers filed an action against appellees, the board of education and others, challenging the constitutionality of N.Y. Educ. Law § 3210, which permitted the absence of students from the public schools for religious observance and education. The New York Court of Appeals sustained § 3210 and the regulations thereunder. The taxpayers appealed.

The taxpayers argued that the "released time" program violated the First Amendment because the weight and influence of the school was put behind a program for religious instruction.

  • The Court stressed that the program involved neither religious instruction in public school classrooms nor the expenditure of public funds. 
  • The Court held that the system did not prohibit the free exercise of religion because no one was forced to go to the religious classroom and no religious exercise or instruction was brought to the classrooms of the public schools. 
  • There was no evidence in the record that supported the conclusion that the system involved the use of coercion to get public school students into religious classrooms. 
  • In addition, the state had not made a law respecting an establishment of religion. 
  • The Court emphasized that the First Amendment did not require the government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence. 
  • Separation of church and state did not mean that public institutions could make no adjustments of their schedules to accommodate the religious needs of the people.
The Court affirmed the judgment.

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