Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School Dist., 509 U.S. 1, 5 (1993)

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Cite as: 509 U. S. 1 (1993)

Opinion of the Court

request for a preliminary injunction, finding that the provision of an interpreter at Salpointe would likely offend the Establishment Clause. Id., at 52-53. The court thereafter granted respondent summary judgment, on the ground that "[t]he interpreter would act as a conduit for the religious inculcation of James—thereby, promoting James' religious development at government expense." App. to Pet. for Cert. A-35. "That kind of entanglement of church and state," the District Court concluded, "is not allowed." Ibid.

The Court of Appeals affirmed by a divided vote, 963 F. 2d 1190 (CA9 1992), applying the three-part test announced in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U. S. 602, 613 (1971). It first found that the IDEA has a clear secular purpose: " 'to assist States and Localities to provide for the education of all handicapped children.' " 963 F. 2d, at 1193 (quoting 20 U. S. C. 1400(c)).4 Turning to the second prong of the Lemon inquiry, though, the Court of Appeals determined that the IDEA, if applied as petitioners proposed, would have the primary effect of advancing religion and thus would run afoul of the Establishment Clause. "By placing its employee in the sectarian school," the Court of Appeals reasoned, "the government would create the appearance that it was a 'joint sponsor' of the school's activities." 963 F. 2d, at 1194-1195. This, the court held, would create the "symbolic union of government and religion" found impermissible in School Dist. of Grand Rapids v. Ball, 473 U. S. 373, 392 (1985).5 In contrast, the dissenting judge argued that "[g]eneral welfare programs neutrally available to all children," such as the IDEA, pass constitutional muster, "because their benefits diffuse over the entire population." 963 F. 2d, at 1199 (opinion of Tang,

4 Respondent now concedes that "the IDEA has an appropriate 'secular purpose.' " Brief for Respondent 16.

5 The Court of Appeals also rejected petitioners' Free Exercise Clause claim. 963 F. 2d, at 1196-1197. Petitioners have not challenged that part of the decision below. Pet. for Cert. 10, n. 9.


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