473 U.S. 402 (1985), 84-237, Aguilar v. Felton

Docket Nº:No. 84-237
Citation:473 U.S. 402, 105 S.Ct. 3232, 87 L.Ed.2d 290, 53 U.S.L.W. 5013
Party Name:Aguilar v. Felton
Case Date:July 01, 1985
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 402

473 U.S. 402 (1985)

105 S.Ct. 3232, 87 L.Ed.2d 290, 53 U.S.L.W. 5013

Aguilar

v.

Felton

No. 84-237

United States Supreme Court

July 1, 1985

Argued December 5, 1984

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE

SECOND CIRCUIT

Syllabus

New York City uses federal funds received under the Title I program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to pay the salaries of public school employees who teach in parochial schools in the city. That program authorized federal financial assistance to local educational institutions to meet the needs of educationally deprived children from low-income families. The city makes the teacher assignments, and the teachers are supervised by field personnel who monitor the Title I classes. Appellee city taxpayers brought an action in Federal District Court, alleging that the Title I program administered by [105 S.Ct. 3233] the city violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and seeking injunctive relief. The District Court granted appellants' motion for summary judgment based on the evidentiary record in another case that involved an identical challenge to the city's Title I program, and in which the constitutionality of the program was upheld. The Court of Appeals reversed.

Held: The Title I program administered by New York City, which is similar in a number of respects to that held unconstitutional today in School District of Grand Rapids v. Ball, ante p. 373, violates the Establishment Clause. Although the program here could be argued to be distinguishable from that in School District of Grand Rapids on the ground that New York City has adopted a system for monitoring the religious content of publicly funded Title I classes in the religious schools, the supervision would, at best assist, in preventing the Title I program from being used, intentionally or unwittingly, to inculcate the religious beliefs of the surrounding parochial school. And the program here would, in any event, inevitably result in the excessive entanglement of church and state. Even where state aid to parochial institutions does not have the primary effect of advancing religion, the provision of such aid may nevertheless violate the Establishment Clause owing to the interaction of church and state in the administration of that aid. Here, the scope

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and duration of New York City's Title I program would require a permanent and pervasive state presence in the sectarian schools receiving aid. This pervasive monitoring infringes precisely those Establishment Clause values at the root of the prohibition of excessive entanglement. Moreover, personnel of the public and parochial school systems must work together in resolving various administrative matters and problems, and the program necessitates frequent contacts between the regular parochial school teachers and the remedial teachers. Pp. 408-414.

739 F.2d 48, affirmed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 414. BURGER, C.J., post, p. 419, WHITE, J., ante, p. 400, and REHNQUIST, J., post, p. 420, filed dissenting opinions. O'CONNOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, J., joined as to Parts II and III, post, p. 421.

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BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The City of New York uses federal funds to pay the salaries of public employees who teach in parochial schools. In this companion case to School District of Grand Rapids v. Ball, ante, p. 373, we determine whether this practice violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

I

A

The program at issue in this case, originally enacted as Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965,1 authorizes the Secretary of Education to distribute financial assistance to local educational institutions to meet the needs of educationally deprived children from low-income families. The funds are to be appropriated in accordance with programs proposed by local educational agencies and approved by state educational agencies. 20 U.S.C.

Page 405

§ 3805(a).2

To the extent consistent with the number of educationally deprived children in the school district of the local educational agency who are enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools, such agency shall make provisions for including special educational services and arrangements . . . in which such children can participate.

§ 3806(a).3 The proposed programs must also meet the following statutory requirements: the children involved in the program must be educationally deprived, § 3804(a),4 the children must reside in areas comprising a high concentration of low-income families, § 3805(b),5 and the programs must supplement,

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not supplant, programs that would exist absent funding under Title I. § 3807(b).6

Since 1966, the City of New York has provided instructional services funded by Title I to parochial school students on the premises of parochial schools. Of those students eligible to receive funds in 1981-1982, 13.2% were enrolled in private schools. Of that group, 84% were enrolled in schools affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn and 8% were enrolled in Hebrew day schools. With respect to the religious atmosphere of these schools, the Court of Appeals concluded that

the picture that emerges is of a system in which religious considerations play a key role in the selection of students and teachers, and which has as its substantial purpose the inculcation of religious values.

739 F.2d 48, 68 (CA2 1984).

The programs conducted at these schools include remedial reading, reading skills, remedial mathematics, English as a second language, and guidance services. These programs are carried out by regular employees of the public schools (teachers, [105 S.Ct. 3235] guidance counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers) who have volunteered to teach in the parochial schools. The amount of time that each professional spends in the parochial school is determined by the number of students in the particular program and the needs of these students.

The City's Bureau of Nonpublic School Reimbursement makes teacher assignments, and the instructors are supervised

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by field personnel, who attempt to pay at least one unannounced visit per month. The field supervisors, in turn, report to program coordinators, who also pay occasional unannounced supervisory visits to monitor Title I classes in the parochial schools. The professionals involved in the program are directed to avoid involvement with religious activities that are conducted within the private schools and to bar religious materials in their classrooms. All material and equipment used in the programs funded under Title I are supplied by the Government, and are used only in those programs. The professional personnel are solely responsible for the selection of the students. Additionally, the professionals are informed that contact with private school personnel should be kept to a minimum. Finally, the administrators of the parochial schools are required to clear the classrooms used by the public school personnel of all religious symbols.

B

In 1978, six taxpayers commenced this action in the District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleging that the Title I program administered by the City of New York violates the Establishment Clause. These taxpayers, appellees in today's case, sought to enjoin the further distribution of funds to programs involving instruction on the premises of parochial schools. Initially the case was held for the outcome of National Coalition for Public Education and Religious Liberty v. Harris, 489 F.Supp. 1248 (SDNY 1980) (PEARL), which involved an identical challenge to the Title I program. When the District Court in PEARL affirmed the constitutionality of the Title I program, ibid., and this Court dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction, 449 U.S. 808 (1980), the challenge of the present appellees was renewed. The District Court granted appellants' motion for summary judgment based upon the evidentiary record developed in PEARL.

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A unanimous panel of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed, holding that

[t]he Establishment Clause, as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court in Public Funds for Public Schools v. Marburger, 358 F.Supp. 29 (D. N.J.1973), aff'd, mem., 417 U.S. 961. . . (1974); Meek v. Pittenger, 421 U.S. 349 . . . (1975) (particularly Part V, pp. 367-72); and Wolman v. Walter, 433 U.S. 229 . . . (1977), constitutes an insurmountable barrier to the use of federal funds to send public school teachers and other professionals into religious schools to carry on instruction, remedial or otherwise, or to provide clinical and guidance services of the sort at issue here.

739 F.2d at 49-50. We postponed probable jurisdiction. 469 U.S. 878 (1984). We conclude that jurisdiction by appeal does not properly lie.7 Treating the papers as a petition for a [105 S.Ct. 3236] writ of certiorari, see 28 U.S.C. § 2103, we grant the petition, and now affirm the judgment below.

II

In School District of Grand Rapids v. Ball, ante p. 373, the Court has today held unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause two remedial and enhancement programs operated by the Grand Rapids Public School District, in which

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classes were provided to private school children at public expense in classrooms located in and leased from the local private schools. The New York City programs challenged in this case are very similar to the programs we examined in Ball. In both cases, publicly funded...

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