U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Education: Zorach v. Clauson


This court case is an example of the ways in which religious education arrived at a truce with public [secular] education in the case of United States.

Under § 3210 of the New York Education Law and the regulations thereunder, New York City permits its public schools to release students during school hours, on written requests of their parents, so that they may leave the school buildings and grounds and go to religious centers for religious instruction or devotional exercises. The same section makes school attendance compulsory; students not released stay in the classrooms, and the churches report to the schools the names of children released from public schools who fail to report for religious instruction. The program involves neither religious instruction in public schools nor the expenditure of public funds.

Held: This program does not violate the First Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, distinguished. Pp. 308-315.

(a) By this system, New York has neither prohibited the “free exercise” of religion nor made a law “respecting an establishment of religion” within the meaning of the First Amendment. Pp. 310-315.

(b) There is no evidence in the record in this case to support a conclusion that the system involves the use of coercion to get public school students into religious classrooms. Pp. 311-312.

The New York Court of Appeals sustained N.Y. Education Law § 3210 and the regulations thereunder permitting absence of students from the public schools for religious observance and education, against the claim that the program thereunder violated the Federal Constitution. 303 N.Y. 161, 100 N.E.2d 463. On appeal to this Court, affirmed, p. 315. [p308]

via Zorach v. Clauson.

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About Irfan

I am an independent researcher and blogger interested in everything under the sun, but more so in the philosophy and history of education and education reform generally, and specifically in the so-called post colonial contexts

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