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Won U.S. Supreme Court

Mitchell v. Helms

The Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana law providing funds for educational materials in both private and public schools did not violate the Constitution.



Chapter 2 of the Louisiana Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 allowed funds for educational equipment, like computers and library resources, to be allocated to schools with qualifying needs, whether it be a public or a private school, even when some of the private schools were religious.

A group of parents from non-religious schools filed a lawsuit alleging Chapter 2 violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A federal district court initially ruled in favor of the parents, but later ruled that the law did not violate the Constitution. A federal appeals court reversed that ruling and deemed the law unconstitutional.

Louisiana officials appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Alliance Defending Freedom funded amicus efforts supporting Chapter 2. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law, finding that neutrally applied benefits to both secular and religious schools don’t constitute the establishment of religion. As Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “If the religious, irreligious, and areligious are all alike eligible for governmental aid, no one would conclude that any indoctrination that any particular recipient conducts has been done at the behest of the government."

Case Documents

U.S. Supreme Court