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CIVIO, A Civil Rights GameThe content on this page supplements CIVIO, a civil rights strategy card game designed by and available from Reach and Teach. Learn more>>

Zelman v Simmon-Harris (2002)

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A school voucher program which includes voluntary choice of a religious private school is constitutional

Decided: June 27, 2002
Issue(s): School
Increases:  
Decreases:  Religion, Lemon v Kurtzman

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The Court finds that a Cleveland school voucher program does not violate the 1st Amendment Establishment Clause forbidding the advancing or inhibiting religion since "government aid reaches religious institutions only by way of the deliberate choices of numerous individual recipients. The incidental advancement of a religious mission, or the perceived endorsement of a religious message, is reasonably attributable to the individual aid recipients not the government, whose role ends with the disbursement of benefits." What was not commented on in the decision was an argument in Lemon v Kurtzman that "...as part of its attempt to avoid the consequences of Brown v Board of Education to integrate schools, [Arkansas] withdrew its financial support from some public schools and sent the funds instead to private schools. That state action was held to violate the Equal Protection Clause."

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