Everson v. Board of Education
330 U.S. 1
Everson v. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing
APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF ERRORS AND APPEALS OF NEW JERSEYNo. 52 Argued: November 20, 1946 --- Decided: February 10, 1947
Pursuant to a New Jersey statute authorizing district boards of education to make rules and contracts for the transportation of children to and from schools other than private schools operated for profit, a board of education by resolution authorized the reimbursement of parents for fares paid for the transportation by public carrier of children attending public and Catholic schools. The Catholic schools operated under the superintendency of a Catholic priest and, in addition to secular education, gave religious instruction in the Catholic Faith. A district taxpayer challenged the validity under the Federal Constitution of the statute and resolution so far as they authorized reimbursement to parents for the transportation of children attending sectarian schools. No question was raised as to whether the exclusion of private schools operated for profit denied equal protection of the laws; nor did the record show that there were any children in the district who attended, or would have attended but for the cost of transportation, any but public or Catholic schools.
1. The expenditure of tax raised funds thus authorized was for a public purpose, and did not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 5-8.
2. The statute and resolution did not violate the provision of the First Amendment (made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment) prohibiting any "law respecting an establishment of religion." Pp. 8-18. [p2]
In a suit by a taxpayer, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the state legislature was without power under the state constitution to authorize reimbursement to parents of bus fares paid for transporting their children to schools other than public schools. 132 N.J.L. 98, 39 A.2d 75. The New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals reversed, holding that neither the statute nor a resolution passed pursuant to it violated the state constitution or the provisions of the Federal Constitution in issue. 133 N.J.L. 350, 44 A.2d 333. On appeal of the federal questions to this Court, affirmed, p. 18. [p3]