Washington Constitution

Another celebrated case in relation to the Gunwall doctrine is the Maylon v. Pierce County case, wherein the Washington Supreme Court once more turned to the guidelines set forth in the State vs. Gunwall landmark case. In this particular case, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington concluded that this provision, particularly Article 1 Section 11 of the Washington State Constitution provision also affords more protection than the First Amendment and should be independently analyzed.

Under the first two Gunwall criteria, which examine the state constitution's text standing alone and as compared to the analogous federal provisions, the Maylon court found that the language of Article I, Section 11, is more specific than that of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and that the language differs greatly. The state constitution enumerates four specific purposes for which public money may not be used: religious worship, religious exercise, religious instruction, or the support of any religious establishment.

By contrast, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment simply prohibits laws "respecting the establishment of religion. " Another case worth analyzing with respect to the Washington State Constitution and the First Amendment is Witters v. Washington State Commission for the Blind. Hosford explains that in Witters, the Supreme Court of Washington ultimately relied on the Washington Constitution to prohibit public aid for religious education even when the federal constitution permitted it.

The State of Washington Commission for the Blind denied vocational rehabilitation assistance to Witters, a blind student, on the grounds that providing assistance to study to become a pastor would violate the state constitution's requirement of separation of church and state. When he applied for assistance, Witters was enrolled at a Bible College where his coursework focused on the Bible, ethics, speech, and church administration.

The Supreme Court of Washington affirmed the decision of the Commission denying the aid, but initially relied on the federal constitution, finding that providing aid would have the primary effect of advancing religion. The U. S. Supreme Court reversed and found that because the money would not be paid directly to the college but to the student who would then make a decision where to spend it, the aid did not violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

On remand, the Supreme Court of Washington held that providing aid to Witters under the program violated Article I, Section 11, of the Washington Constitution because public money would be applied to religious "instruction" as specifically prohibited by the constitutional provision. The court concluded that the Washington State Constitution "prohibits the taxpayers from being put in the position of paying for the religious instruction of aspirants to the clergy with whose religious views they may disagree. " In its reconsideration of the case under the state constitution, the court relied on Calvary Bible Presbyterian Church v.

Board of Regents, which defined "religious instruction" as that which "resembles worship" and is "devotional in nature and designed to induce faith and belief in the student. " The Witters court found that Witters' religious instruction was "designed to prepare him for a career promoting Christianity" and necessarily involved the "indoctrination" of Christian beliefs. The Witters court concluded that Bible study and church courses were by definition "devotional in nature and designed to induce faith and belief in the student.

" However, the dissent noted that the record lacked evidence that Witters' course work involved religious instruction of the sort envisioned by Calvary. After determining that aid to Witters would violate the state constitution's establishment prohibition, the court asked whether the denial of aid created tension between establishment and free exercise by encroaching on Witters' rights to freely exercise his religion. The court reasoned that because Witters was not being pressured or forced to violate any tenet of his religious beliefs, the denial did not violate his free exercise rights.

The court also asked whether the denial of funds violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the federal constitution. It concluded that the compelling state interest in ensuring the stricter separation of church and state set forth in the Washington Constitution justified the denial of aid and did not violate equal protection. A recent case which also touched on the provision of Article 1 Section 11 of the Washington State Constitution is that of Gallwey v.

Grimm where the Supreme Court of Washington held that a program that provides tuition grants to select students, who are pursuing a baccalaureate degree at certain public or private universities in the State of Washington, did not violate the Washington Constitution. The court found that the private universities participating in the program were not considered "schools" which, under the language of the Washington Constitution, could be barred from receiving public funds. Additionally, the court found that the program did not violate the Establishment Clauses contained in both the Washington Constitution and the United States Constitution.