Meek v. Pittenger

PETITIONER: Meek
RESPONDENT: Pittenger
LOCATION: Mississippi Tax Commission, Alcohol and Beverage Commission

DOCKET NO.: 73-1765
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 421 US 349 (1975)
ARGUED: Feb 19, 1975
DECIDED: May 19, 1975

ADVOCATES:
Henry T. Reath - for appellees
J. Justin Blewitt, Jr. - for appellees
Leo Pfeffer - for appellants
William B. Ball - for appellees
William P. Thorn - for appellants

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Meek v. Pittenger

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 19, 1975 in Meek v. Pittenger

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 19, 1975 in Meek v. Pittenger

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 73-1765, Meek versus Pittenger along with 74-363, United States against Reliable Transfer Company will each be announced by Mr. Justice Stewart.

Potter Stewart:

The first of these cases, Meek against Pittenger is here on direct appeal from a three-judge United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

In this case we are required to determined once again whether a state law providing assistance to non-public church related elementary and secondary schools is constitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment.

With the stated purpose of assuring that every school child in the Commonwealth would equitably share in the benefits of auxiliary services, textbooks, and instructional material, provided free of charge to children attending public schools, the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1972 added Acts 194 and 195 to its public school code.

Act 194 authorizes the Commonwealth to provide auxiliary services so-called to all children enrolled in non-public elementary and secondary schools that meet Pennsylvania's compulsory attendance requirements.

Auxiliary services as defined in the statute include counseling, testing and psychological services, speech and hearing therapy, teaching and related services for exceptional children, for remedial students, and for the educationally disadvantaged.

Act 195 authorizes the State Secretary of Education to lend textbooks without charge to children attending non-public elementary and secondary schools that meet the Commonwealth's compulsory attendance requirements.

The books that may be lent are limited to those which are acceptable for use in any public elementary or secondary school of the Commonwealth.

Act 195 also authorizes the Secretary of Education of Pennsylvania to lend directly to the non-public schools instructional materials and equipment useful to the education of non-public school children.

Instructional materials are defined to include periodicals, photographs, maps, charts, sound recordings, films, or any other printed and published material of a similar nature.

The three-judge District Court in this case unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the textbook loan program authorized by Act 195.

By a divided vote, the Court also upheld the constitutionality of Act 194's provision of auxiliary services to children in non-public elementary and secondary schools and Act 195's authorization of loans of instructional material directly to non-public elementary and secondary schools.

For the reasons stated in the written opinion of the Court filed today, we reverse the judgment of the District Court relating to auxiliary services and instructional materials and equipment.

For the reasons stated in the relevant part of the opinion to which Mr. Justice Blackmun, Mr. Justice Powell, and I have subscribed, coupled with the reasons stated in Mr. Justice Rehnquist's separate opinion which Mr. Justice White has joined and supported in a separate opinion filed by the Chief Justice, we affirm the judgment of the District Court relating to textbooks.

The Chief Justice has filed a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part which Mr. Justice Douglas and Mr. Justice Marshall have joined.

Mr. Justice Rehnquist has filed a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part in which he has been joined by Mr. Justice White.