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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

02-ZELMAN on Feb 20, 2002

Decided Jun 27, 2002
Case Ruling: Zelman v. Simmons-Harris
The public schools in many of the poorer parts of Cleveland were deemed failures, and the legislature enacted the Pilot Project Scholarship Program to provide tuition vouchers for up to $2,250 a year to attend participating public or private schools. The parents chose where to enroll their children. In the 1999-2000 school year, 82% of the participating private schools had a religious affiliation.

HELD: Delivered by Rehnquist, joined by Scalia, Kennedy

The Ohio program does not violate the Establishment Clause, because it passed a 5-part Private Choice Test developed for this case:
  1. the program must have a valid secular purpose
  2. aid must go to parents and not to the schools
  3. a broad class of beneficiaries must be covered
  4. the program must be neutral with respect to religion, and
  5. there must be adequate nonreligious options.
Rehnquist wrote that "the incidental advancement of a religious mission is reasonably attributable to the individual aid recipients not the government, whose role ends with the disbursement of benefits."

CONCURRENCE: Concurrence by O'Connor and Thomas

Voucher programs like the one in this case are essential because "failing urban public schools disproportionately affect minority children most in need of educational opportunity." Vouchers give families an opportunity to enroll their children in more effective private schools. Otherwise, "the core purposes of the 14th Amendment" would be frustrated.

DISSENT: Dissent by Souter, joined by Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer

"The voluntary character of parochial education over an education in the public school system is irrelevant to the question whether the government's choice to pay for religious indoctrination is constitutionally permissible." Religious instruction and secular education cannot be separated and this violates the Establishment Clause.


    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 7. Question 7: Vouchers for school choice Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Education
  • Headline: Vouchers ok if neutral with respect to religion (Score: 1)
  • Headline 2: Vouchers needed for failing urban public schools (Score: 2)
  • Headline 3: Parochial school vouchers violate church-state separation (Score: -2)

    Participating counts on AmericansElect question 6.
  • Headline: Vouchers ok if neutral with respect to religion (Answer: A)
  • Headline 2: Vouchers needed for failing urban public schools (Answer: A)
  • Headline 3: Parochial school vouchers violate church-state separation (Answer: D)
  • AmericansElect Quiz Question 6 on Education: When you think about education in the US, which of the following is closest to your opinion?
    • A: School curriculums should be set entirely at a local school board level
    • B: School curriculums should be set more by local school boards than at a national level
    • C: School curriculums should be set more by national standards than at a local level
    • D: School curriculums should be set entirely at a national standardized level
    • E: Unsure


  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.



Democrats participating in 02-ZELMAN

Stephen Breyer w3dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j3dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 



Republicans participating in 02-ZELMAN

Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sandra Day O`Connor w2cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2005) 
William Rehnquist w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (until 2005) 
Antonin Scalia j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
David Souter w3dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2009) 
John Paul Stevens j3dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2010) 
Clarence Thomas w2cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 



Independents participating in 02-ZELMAN



Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 2
Republicans: 7
Independents: 0


















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