Zellers v. Huff, 5332

Citation236 P.2d 949,1951 NMSC 72,55 N.M. 501
Decision Date20 September 1951
Docket NumberNo. 5332,5332
PartiesZELLERS et al. v. HUFF et al.
CourtSupreme Court of New Mexico

Harry L. Bigbee, Santa Fe, for appellants.

Watson, McIntosh & Watson, Santa Fe, John A. Danaher, Washington, D. C., for appellees.

Joe L. Martinez, Atty. Gen., Philip H. Dunleavy, Ass't Atty. Gen., for the State of N. Mex.

R. Lawrence Siegel, New York City, Pearce C. Rodey, Albuquerque, amici curiae.

McGHEE, Justice.

This is a class action brought under Sections 19-101, rule 23(a) and 19-601, N.M.S.A., 1941 Comp., by the plaintiffs as citizens, taxpayers and parents of school children for themselves and others similarly situated seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctions against members of the State Board of Education, as such, members of the County, Independent or Municipal Boards of Education having jurisdiction of the schools involved, R. H. Grissom as State Educational Budget Auditor and various Sisters and Prothers who are members of Roman Catholic Religious Orders teaching in the affected schools.

The general objects of the first cause of action were to have the teaching of sectarian religion in the public schools declared illegal, to bar permanently certain teachers from teaching in the public schools for having taught sectarian religion therein, to have all members of Roman Catholic Religious Orders declared ineligible to teach in the public schools of the state, and to have the expenditure of public funds in aid of Roman Catholic parochial schools declared illegal. In the second cause of action injunctions were asked to put into effect the declarations of law which might be made in the declaratory judgment.

Under our statutes the County, Town and Independent Boards of Education named as defendants employed and had the supervision of the Sisters and Brothers (hereafter called the Religious) as teachers. Many additional facts regarding the Religious were pleaded, but it would unduly lengthen this opinion to detail them.

An abstract of the material facts as found by the trial court will be set out hereafter and serve as a guide for the declarations of law made by the trial court and to be made by us. For purposes of simplicity and brevity specific findings applicable to a number of schools have been grouped together under single statements; some findings have been incorporated in others; and the schools concerned have, in the main, been treated in two groups, the first being those found by the trial court to be parochial schools of the Roman Catholic Church, and the second being those where there is no separation between the Roman Catholic Church and the State of New Mexico, although not declared by the trial court to be parochial schools.

Digest of Facts Found by the Trial Court

1) Plaintiffs brought this action on behalf of themselves and other residents, tax-payers and parents of children of school age similarly situated.

2. Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law.

3. An actual controversy exists between the plaintiffs and all defendants herein.

4. The statutes of the State of New Mexico provide an administrative remedy, but that remedy in a situation as here presented is one of form and not of substance, and plaintiffs have exhausted said remedy prior to the filing of the petition herein.

5. There is no separation between the Roman Catholic Church and the State of New Mexico in the following named schools, all located in the State of New Mexico:

First Group Santa Rita Grade School, Carrizozo

Mount Carmel School, Socorro

St. Mary's School, Belen

San Fidel School, Valencia County

St. Nicholas Grade School, Sandoval County

Sacred Heart Academy Grade School, San Juan County

Lumberton School, Rio Arriba County

Park View School, Rio Arriba County

Penasco School, Taos County

Old Town Junior High School, Las Vegas

St. Francis School, Ranchos de Taos

St. Joseph's School, Rio Arriba County

Second Group Cubero School, Valencia County

Cuba School, Sandoval County

Pena Blanca School, Sandoval County

Blanco Grade School, San Juan County

Chama School, Rio Arriba County

Dixon School, Rio Arriba County

San Juan School, Rio Arriba County

Pecos Independent School District, Pecos

Santa Cruz School, Santa Fe County

Costilla School, Taos County

Villanueva School, San Miguel County

Ribera School, San Miguel County

More School, Mora County 6. All of the schools named in these findings are situated in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, except the schools in Cubero and San Fidel, Valencia County, and Blanco, San Juan County, which are located in the Archdiocese of Gallup, New Mexico.

7. The schools comprising the first group above are, in fact, Roman Catholic parochial schools being subsidized in part by funds raised through taxation by the State of New Mexico through the employment of teachers, furnishing of free bus transportation and free text-books; and funds so expended are used in furtherance of the dissemination of Roman Catholic religious doctrines to students attending these schools in compliance with the New Mexico compulsory attendance law. In all of the schools named in the first group, the following conditions exist, to-wit:

(a) Church buildings owned by the Roman Catholic Church are used five days each week during the school term for school buildings.

(b) Religious are employed as teachers by the State of New Mexico and paid as such from funds raised through taxation in the State of New Mexico.

(c) Pupils attending these schools are given religious instruction in the principles of the Roman Catholic Church, commonly known as the catechism, during school hours by the Religious employed as teachers by the State of New Mexico.

(d) Students are taught and recite prayers during school hours which are peculiar to the Roman Catholic Church.

(e) Roman Catholic literature, pamphlets, leaflets and comic books are distributed to the students during school hours.

Certain variations in these practices are found from school to school and are detailed hereafter, to-wit:

(a) Lumberton School, Rio Arriba County, and Old Town Junior High School, Las Vegas, are not named as schools receiving free bus transportation for their pupils.

(b) Park View School, Rio Arriba County, and St. Francis School, Ranchos de Taos, are schools in which religious instruction was given during school hours by the parish priests of the Roman Catholic Church.

(c) Students at Santa Rita School, Carrizozo, were not found to have been learning or reciting prayers peculiar to the Roman Catholic Church during school hours.

(d) Neither the Santa Rita School, Carrizozo, nor the Lumberton School, Rio Arriba County, were declared to be distributing Roman Catholic literature, etc., to their students during school hours.

(e) St. Joseph's School in Dixon, Rio Arriba County, is not included in some of the findings made by the court common to all of the parochial schools, but the court specifically found this school is in fact a Roman Catholic parochial school being aided by the State of New Mexico through funds produced by taxation in the employment of teachers, the furnishing of bus transportation and text books without charge. (There is abundant evidence that the procedure followed in this school is essentially the same as that followed in the remainder of the schools found to be parochial.)

8. With respect to the schools enumerated in the second group, the court found:

(a) Religious are employed to teach in all of these schools by the State of New Mexico and paid out of tax funds. Free text books and free bus transportation are furnished the pupils in said schools through funds raised by taxation by the State of New Mexico, and funds so expended are used in furtherance of the dissemination of Roman Catholic religious doctrines to students attending in compliance with the New Mexico compulsory attendance law.

(b) In every school religious instruction in the principles of the Roman Catholic Church is given pupils during school hours by the Religious employed as teachers and paid by the State of New Mexico out of tax funds.

(c) In ten of these schools students, during school hours, are taught and recite prayers peculiar to the Roman Catholic Church. (Santa Cruz School, Costilla School and Villanueva School not being included in this finding.) (d) Church buildings owned by the Roman Catholic Church are used five days each week during the school term in ten of these schools (there being no finding as to Chama School, Pecos Independent School District and Ribera School.)

(e) Roman Catholic literature is distributed during school hours in seven of these schools, to-wit: Cubero School, Blanco Grade School, San Juan School, Santa Cruz School, Costilla School, Villanueva School and Mora School.

9. Tierra Amarilla School, Rio Arriba County, is not included in the number of schools where the court found there was no separation of the State of New Mexico and the Roman Catholic Church, however, by the findings of the court, this school observed all the practices as the schools enumerated in the second group, except that church buildings were not there used for school buildings.

10. In certain of the schools from each group, parochial and otherwise, students are released from school attendance during school hours for the purpose of attending mass or confession held in the Roman Catholic Church, and there are pictures on the walls of the schoolrooms portraying themes peculiar to the Roman Catholic Church.

11. With respect to all of the schools in both groups, the court found the children attending said schools are under the supervision of the teachers from the time they arrive on the school ground and so long as they remain thereon at the end of the school day.

12. A complete line of text books has been adopted by the State of New Mexico for use in Catholic schools only and is furnished to the Catholic parochial schools and certain public schools without charge.

13. The Religious are employed as teachers and are...

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  • Cooper v. Eugene School Dist. No. 4J
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • July 29, 1986
    ...regulations were sustained in New York, O'Connor v. Hendrick, 184 N.Y. 421, 77 N.E. 612 (1906), and in New Mexico, Zellers v. Huff, 55 N.M. 501, 236 P.2d 949 (1951); challenges to tolerating religious dress in the classroom rather than to rules forbidding such dress were rejected in North D......
  • Friedman v. Board of County Com'rs of Bernalillo County
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    ...and prohibiting the support of any religious sect or denomination). Plaintiffs further contend that Zellers v. Huff, 1951–NMSC–072, 55 N.M. 501, 236 P.2d 949, is controlling precedent in this case.{2} The district court rejected Plaintiffs' arguments and granted summary judgment to Defendan......
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