Opinion of the Court
to undertake sectarian education." Id., at 488. We also remarked that, much like the law in Mueller, "Washington's program is 'made available generally without regard to the sectarian-nonsectarian, or public-nonpublic nature of the institution benefited.' " Witters, supra, at 487 (quoting Committee for Public Ed. & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U. S. 756, 782-783, n. 38 (1973)). In light of these factors, we held that Washington's program—even as applied to a student who sought state assistance so that he could become a pastor—would not advance religion in a manner inconsistent with the Establishment Clause. Witters, supra, at 489.
That same reasoning applies with equal force here. The service at issue in this case is part of a general government program that distributes benefits neutrally to any child qualifying as "disabled" under the IDEA, without regard to the "sectarian-nonsectarian, or public-nonpublic nature" of the school the child attends. By according parents freedom to select a school of their choice, the statute ensures that a government-paid interpreter will be present in a sectarian school only as a result of the private decision of individual parents. In other words, because the IDEA creates no financial incentive for parents to choose a sectarian school, an interpreter's presence there cannot be attributed to state decisionmaking. Viewed against the backdrop of Mueller and Witters, then, the Court of Appeals erred in its decision. When the government offers a neutral service on the premises of a sectarian school as part of a general program that "is in no way skewed towards religion," Witters, supra, at 488, it follows under our prior decisions that provision of that service does not offend the Establishment Clause. See Wolman v. Walter, 433 U. S. 229, 244 (1977). Indeed, this is an even easier case than Mueller and Witters in the sense that, under the IDEA, no funds traceable to the government ever find their way into sectarian schools' coffers. The only indirect economic benefit a sectarian school might receive by dint of the IDEA is the disabled child's tuition—and that is,Page: Index Previous 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Next
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