In keeping with the constitutional separation of church and state, the U.S. Supreme Court historically has struck down legislation that allocates public funds for private schools. In the case Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), the Court adopted a three-part test for any valid use of public funds to aid private schools. The Court ruled that school-financing legislation must have a secular purpose, it must neither advance nor impede religion, and it must avoid excessive governmental entanglement with religious concerns.
Held Opinion by Burger
Concurring opinion by Douglas
Concurring opinion by Brennan
Concurring opinion by White
Alton J. LEMON et al., Appellants, v. David H. KURTZMAN, as Superintendent as Public Instruction of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
403 U.S. 602, 91 S.Ct. 2105, 29 L.Ed.2d 745
Decided June 28, 1971.
Actions challenging constitutionality of state aid to, or for the benefit of, nonpublic schools. A three-judge United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, 316 F.Supp. 112, held the Rhode Island statute unconstitutional, while a three-judge United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 310 F.Supp. 35, dismissed the complaint challenging the Pennsylvania statute, and appeals were taken. The Supreme Court, Mr. Chief Justice Burger, held that both statutes were unconstitutional under the religion clauses of the First Amendment, though promoting secular legislative purposes, since both involved excessive entanglement of state with church, where the Rhode Island program, consisting of salary supplements paid to teachers of secular subjects in nonpublic schools, operated to the benefit of parochial schools constituting integral part of the religious mission of the church and in which the recipient teachers were under religious control and discipline, and involved necessity of comprehensive and continuing state surveillance to insure obedience to restrictions as to the courses which could be taught, the materials which could be used, where the Pennsylvania program, involving reimbursement of nonpublic schools for teachers' salaries, taxtbooks, and instructional materials used in the teaching of specific secular subjects, provided direct aid to church schools and intimate and continuing relationship arising from state's postaudit power to inspect and evaluate schools' financial records and to determine which expenditures were religious and which were secular, and where both posed danger of divisive political activity and possibility of progression leading toward the establishment of state churches and state religion. Judgment in Rhode Island cases affirmed; judgment in Pennsylvania case reversed and case remanded.
Mr. Justice Douglas filed concurring opinion in which Mr. Justice Black joined and in which Mr. Justice Marshall joined as to the Rhode Island cases; Mr. Justice Brennan filed a concurring opinion and would reverse outright the judgment in the Pennsylvania case; Mr. Justice White filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in the Pennsylvania case and dissenting in the Rhode Island cases; Mr. Justice Marshall took no part in the consideration or decision of the Pennsylvania case.
U.S. Supreme Court
LEMON v. KURTZMAN, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)
LEMON ET AL. v. KURTZMAN, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION OF PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
Argued March 3, 1971
Decided June 28, 1971
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.
These two appeals raise questions as to Pennsylvania and Rhode Island statutes providing state aid to church-related elementary and secondary schools. Both statutes are challenged as violative of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Pennsylvania has adopted a statutory program that provides financial support to nonpublic elementary and secondary schools by way of reimbursement for the cost of teachers' salaries, textbooks, and instructional materials in specified secular subjects. Rhode Island has adopted a statute under which the State pays directly to teachers in nonpublic elementary schools a supplement of 15% of their annual salary. Under each statute state aid has been given to church-related educational institutions. We hold that both statutes are unconstitutional.
Establishment of Religion - Public Funds for Religious Schools]
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Background and Explanation
-- Melvin I. Urofsky
Just as George Washington helped shape the actual form that the executive branch would take, so the third chief justice, John Marshall, shaped the role that the courts would play.
Under the administrations of Washington and his successor, John Adams, only members of the ruling Federalist Party were appointed to the bench, and under the terms of the Constitution, they held office for life during "good behavior." Thus, when the opposing Republicansą won the election of 1800, the Jeffersoniansą found that while they controlled the presidency and Congress, the Federalistsą still dominated the judiciary. One of the first acts of the new administration was to repeal the Judiciary Act of 1800, which had created a number of new judgeships. Although President Adams had attempted to fill the vacancies prior to the end of his term, a number of commissions had not been delivered, and one of the appointees, William Marbury, sued Secretary of State James Madison to force him to deliver his commission as a justice of the peace.
The new chief justice, John Marshall, understood that if the Court awarded Marbury a writ of mandamus (an order to force Madison to deliver the commission) the Jefferson administration would ignore it, and thus significantly weaken the authority of the courts. On the other hand, if the Court denied the writ, it might well appear that the justices had acted out of fear. Either case would be a denial of the basic principle of the supremacy of the law.
Marshall's decision in this case has been hailed as a judicial tour de force. In essence, he declared that Madison should have delivered the commission to Marbury, but then held that the section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that gave the Supreme Court the power to issue writs of mandamus exceeded the authority allotted the Court under Article III of the Constitution, and was therefore null and void. Thus he was able to chastise the Jeffersonians and yet not create a situation in which a court order would be flouted.
The critical importance of Marbury is the assumption of several powers by the Supreme Court. One was the authority to declare acts of Congress, and by implication acts of the president, unconstitutional if they exceeded the powers granted by the Constitution. But even more important, the Court became the arbiter of the Constitution, the final authority on what the document meant. As such, the Supreme Court became in fact as well as in theory an equal partner in government, and it has played that role ever since.
The Court would not declare another act of Congress unconstitutional until 1857, and it has used that power sparingly. But through its role as arbiter of the Constitution, it has, especially in the twentieth century, been the chief agency for the expansion of individual rights.
MAPP v. OHIO
March 29, 1961, Argued June 19, 1961, Decided
MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK concurring in a separate opinion.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS concurring in a separate opinion.
Memorandum of MR. JUSTICE STEWART.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, whom MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER and MR. JUSTICE WHITTAKER join, dissenting.
case decided in 1961 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Dollree Mapp was convicted in a state court of possessing pornographic material in violation of Ohio law. Her conviction was obtained on the basis of evidence taken by the police when they entered (1957) her boardinghouse without a search warrant while looking for gambling materials. The Supreme Court, in overturning her conviction, declared that the exclusionary rule (based on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution), which prohibits the use in federal court of evidence obtained through an illegal search and seizure, extended also to state courts. The ruling provoked a good deal of controversy; while proponents of the exclusionary rule claim that it is the only means of assuring freedom from illegal searches, opponents argue that a criminal should not go free because of a police officer's violation of the Constitution.
In 1961 in Mapp v. Ohio the Court held that evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment must be excluded from all trials
Marbury v madison
case decided in 1803 by the U.S. Supreme Court. William Marbury had been commissioned justice of the peace in the District of Columbia by President John Adams in the midnight appointmentsat the very end of his administration. When the new administration did not deliver the commission, Marbury sued James Madison, Jefferson's Secretary of State. (At that time the Secretary of State was charged with certain domestic duties as well as with conducting foreign affairs.) Chief Justice John Marshall held that, although Marbury was entitled to the commission, the statute that was the basis of the particular remedy sought was unconstitutional because it gave the Supreme Court authority that was implicitly denied it by Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution. The decision was the first by the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional and void an act passed by Congress that the Court considered in violation of the Constitution. The decision established the doctrine of judicial review, which recognizes the authority of courts to declare statutes unconstitutional.
Today Marbury is generally considered to be the most important early U.S. Supreme Court decision and the leading precedent for the idea that the Court has the power—and the duty—to strike down acts of Congress that violate the Constitution. While central to modern jurisprudence, the case involved a rather technical set of facts and an issue of relatively minor importance.