SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
OCTOBER TERM, 1992
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit
No. 92-94. Argued February 24, 1993—Decided June 18, 1993
Petitioners, a deaf child and his parents, filed this suit after respondent school district refused to provide a sign-language interpreter to accompany the child to classes at a Roman Catholic high school. They alleged that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment required respondent to provide the interpreter and that the Establishment Clause did not bar such relief. The District Court granted respondent summary judgment on the ground that the interpreter would act as a conduit for the child's religious inculcation, thereby promoting his religious development at government expense in violation of the Establishment Clause. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: 1. The prudential rule of avoiding constitutional questions if there is a nonconstitutional ground for decision is inapplicable here, since respondent did not urge upon the District Court or the Court of Appeals any of the nonconstitutional grounds it now raises in this Court. Pp. 6-8. 2. The Establishment Clause does not prevent respondent from furnishing a disabled child enrolled in a sectarian school with a sign-language interpreter in order to facilitate his education. Government programs that neutrally provide benefits to a broad class of citizens defined without reference to religion are not readily subject to an Establishment Clause challenge just because sectarian institutions may also
1Page: Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007