Everson v. Board of Education Case Brief

Facts of the case

A New Jersey law authorized reimbursement by local school boards of the costs of transportation to and from schools, including private schools. 96% of the private schools who benefitted from this law were parochial Catholic schools. Arch R. Everson, a taxpayer in Ewing Township, filed a lawsuit alleging that this indirect aid to religion violated both the New Jersey state constitution and the First Amendment. After losing in state courts, Everson appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on purely federal constitutional grounds.

Why is the case important?

The Petitioner, Everson (Petitioner), in his status as a taxpayer, filed suit challenging the ability of the Respondent, Board of Education (Respondent), to reimburse funds to parents of parochial school students for the transportation of their children to and from school.

Question

This case considers whether the parents of parochial school children can benefit from the same services afforded to the parents of public school children.

ANSWER

Affirmed.
In affirming the judgment of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court found the statute was not unconstitutional because it was designed to provide a benefit to the parents of all school children, distinct from any religious function in which the children engaged.

CONCLUSION

The New Jersey legislature has decided that a public purpose will be served by using tax-raised funds to pay the bus fares of all school children, including those who attend parochial schools. It has been ruled that sometimes, tax-raised money can’t be used for private purposes. But the Court has also pointed out that this is far-reaching authority must be exercised with the most extreme caution. 253 U.S. 233, 240. Otherwise, a state’s power to legislate for the public welfare might be seriously curtailed, a power which is a primary reason for the existence of states. The establishment of religionclause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church, or aid any religion or prefer one religion over another. The First Amendment does not prohibit New Jersey from using tax-raised funds to transport children to parochial schools because it cannot exclude individuals because of their faith, or lack of it.

  • Advocates: Edward R. Burke for the appellant E. Hilton Jackson for the appellant William H. Speer for the appellee
  • Appellant: Arch R. Everson
  • Appellee: Board of Education of the Township of Ewing
  • DECIDED BY:Vinson Court
  • Location: Everson Residence
Citation: 330 US 1 (1947)
Argued: Nov 20, 1946
Decided: Feb 10, 1947
Everson v. Board of Education Case Brief