Wolman v. Walters

LOCATION:Central Prison

DOCKET NO.: 76-496
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)

CITATION: 433 US 229 (1977)
ARGUED: Apr 25, 1977
DECIDED: Jun 24, 1977

David J. Young – for appellees
Joshua J. Kancelbaum – for appellants
Thomas V. Martin – for appellees

Facts of the case


Media for Wolman v. Walters

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – April 25, 1977 in Wolman v. Walters

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 24, 1977 in Wolman v. Walters

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 76-496, Wolman and others against Walter will be announced by Mr. Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Well, this case comes to us by appeal from the United States District Court of the Southern District of Ohio and it is yet another case in — of drawing line concerning an attempt by the State, this time Ohio, to provide state funds to aid pupils in church-related elementary and secondary schools.

Admittedly, the Ohio statute, this is an attempt to conform to the principles laid down and a case here couple of years ago called Meek against Pittenger, but it is challenged as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution which is applicable to the States to the medium of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The attack is on a statute as six-fold.

Namely, the expenditure of state funds for the purchase of textbooks, the expenditure of funds to provide parochial school children, the standardized test and scoring services as are used in the public schools of the State.

Thirdly, funds to provide speech and hearing diagnostic services and diagnostic psychological services to children in the non-public schools themselves.

And fourthly, funds for the therapeutic guidance and remedial services for students identified as having a need for specialized attention with the personnel supplying the services to be employees, however, of the Local Board of Education and with the services to be performed only in public schools wherein public centers or in mobile units located off the non-public school premises.

Fifth, funds for the purchase and loan to pupils are their parents of instructional materials and instructional equipment of the kind use in the public schools.

And sixth, funds to provide field trip transportation with a choice of field trips to be made by the non-public school teachers from a wide range of locations.

The three-judge Federal District Court upheld the statute in all respects.

The opinion filed today is divided into several parts dealing respectively with the six expenditure classifications under challenge.

In summary, the Court here sustains the Ohio statute insofar as it concerns textbooks and tests and the furnishing of diagnostic and therapeutic services.

We hold, however, that the statute is unconstitutional insofar as the instructional materials and instructional equipment are concerned and also with respect to the field trips.

Thus, the judgment of the three-judge Federal District Court is affirmed in part and reversed in part.

The opinion I filed today is joined in its entirety only by Mr. Justice Stewart.

And those parts thereof which relate to textbooks and tests are also joined by the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Powell.

That part relating to diagnostic services is also joined by the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Marshall, Mr. Justice Powell and Mr. Justice Stevens.

And that part relating to the therapeutic services is also joined by the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Powell and Mr. Justice Stevens.

And those parts holding the provisions as to equipment and materials and field trips to be unconstitutional are also joined Mr. Justice Brennan, Mr. Justice Marshall and Mr. Justice Stevens.

Justices Brennan, Marshall, Powell and Stevens each have filed opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Mr. Justice White and Mr. Justice Rehnquist have filed a joint statement concurring in part and dissenting in part in the judgment.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Blackmun.