Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639, 3 (2002)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Cite as: 536 U. S. 639 (2002)


Ohio provides Cleveland schoolchildren, only one of which is to obtain a scholarship and then choose a religious school. Cleveland's preponderance of religiously affiliated schools did not result from the program, but is a phenomenon common to many American cities. Eighty-two percent of Cleveland's private schools are religious, as are 81% of Ohio's private schools. To attribute constitutional significance to the 82% figure would lead to the absurd result that a neutral school-choice program might be permissible in parts of Ohio where the percentage is lower, but not in Cleveland, where Ohio has deemed such programs most sorely needed. Likewise, an identical private choice program might be constitutional only in States with a lower percentage of religious private schools. Respondents' additional argument that constitutional significance should be attached to the fact that 96% of the scholarship recipients have enrolled in religious schools was flatly rejected in Mueller. The constitutionality of a neutral educational aid program simply does not turn on whether and why, in a particular area, at a particular time, most private schools are religious, or most recipients choose to use the aid at a religious school. Finally, contrary to respondents' argument, Committee for Public Ed. & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U. S. 756—a case that expressly reserved judgment on the sort of program challenged here—does not govern neutral educational assistance programs that offer aid directly to a broad class of individuals defined without regard to religion. Pp. 653-663.

234 F. 3d 945, reversed.

Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, JJ., joined. O'Connor, J., post, p. 663, and Thomas, J., post, p. 676, filed concurring opinions. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 684. Souter, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 686. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens and Souter, JJ., joined, post, p. 717.

Judith L. French, Assistant Attorney General of Ohio, argued the cause for petitioners in No. 00-1751. With her on the briefs were Betty D. Montgomery, Attorney General, David M. Gormley, State Solicitor, Karen L. Lazorishak, James G. Tassie, and Robert L. Strayer, Assistant Attorneys General, Kenneth W. Starr, and Robert R. Gasaway. David J. Young argued the cause for petitioners in No. 00-1777. With him on the briefs were Michael R. Reed and David


Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007