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

98-1648 on Dec 1, 1999

Decided Jun 28, 2000
Case Ruling: MITCHELL v. HELMS
Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act channels federal funds for educational materials such as library media and computer software, to public and private schools to implement “secular, neutral, and nonideological” programs. About 30% of Chapter 2 funds spent in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, are allocated for private schools, most of which are religiously affiliated. Respondents filed suit alleging that Chapter 2 violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.


(Thomas, joined by Rehnquist, Scalia, and Kennedy)
Chapter 2, as applied in Jefferson Parish, is not a law respecting an establishment of religion simply because many of the private schools receiving Chapter 2 aid in the parish are religiously affiliated.


(O’Connor, joined by Breyer)
The expansive scope of the plurality’s rule is troubling. First, the plurality’s treatment of neutrality comes close to assigning that factor singular importance in the future adjudication of Establishment Clause challenges to government school-aid programs. Second, the plurality’s approval of actual diversion of government aid to religious indoctrination is in tension with our precedents and is unnecessary to decide this case. [Within those limits], I concur in the judgment.


(Souter, joined by Stevens and Ginsburg)
The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause bars the use of public funds for religious aid. The plurality is candid in pointing out the extent of actual diversion of Chapter 2 aid to religious use in the case before us, and equally candid in saying it does not matter. To the plurality there is nothing wrong with aiding a school’s religious mission; the only question is whether religious teaching obtains its tax support under a formally evenhanded criterion of distribution. The plurality equates a refusal to aid religious schools with hostility to religion. I respectfully dissent.

    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: Taxpayer funding OK for parochial school materials (Score: 2)
  • Headline 2: Limited public funding OK for parochial school materials (Score: 1)
  • Headline 3: Disallow taxpayer funding for parochial school materials (Score: -1)

  • 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 98-1648

Stephen Breyer j2cUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j3dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 

Republicans participating in 98-1648

Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sandra Day O`Connor w2cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2005) 
William Rehnquist j1US 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 w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 

Independents participating in 98-1648

Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 2
Republicans: 7
Independents: 0

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