The Supreme Court upheld bus fare reimbursements for private school students in the first case to use the Fourteenth Amendment to apply the First Amendment’s establishment of religion clause to the states.
Justice Hugo L. Black
Justice Harold Burton (far right) with his family; Burton was one of the dissenters on Everson.
New Jersey law authorized school boards to reimburse parents for the cost of bus transportation to attend school, whether public or parochial. Arch Everson was a local taxpayer in Ewing township who believed this violated the establishment clause. The four dissenting justices agreed with him, but the majority on the Court believed bus fare payment was remote from any religious purpose. They believed that the money for bus transportation would have been paid to all parents regardless of the kind of school their children attended. Depriving Roman Catholic parents of the payments forced them to pay taxes to support the transportation of other children while not receiving the benefit themselves. The larger point of this case was to establish that neither the state nor the federal government could support a religious institution, and on that point, all agreed.
Engel v. Vitale
Epperson v. Arkansas
Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education
Religion, establishment of