Getting Help with Their Homework: Schools, Lower Courts, and the Supreme Court Justices Look for Answers Under the Establishment Clause

55 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2008

See all articles by Ronna Greff Schneider

Ronna Greff Schneider

University of Cincinnati - College of Law

Abstract

The Supreme Court has held that the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools. The Court has stated that it has been particularly vigilant in monitoring compliance with the Establishment Clause in elementary and secondary schools, where students are impressionable and their attendance is involuntary. Yet, the Court's Establishment Clause jurisprudence, at least in the last two decades, has lacked clarity, certainty, and consistency. The Court's last decision of the century and the first three decisions of the new millennium illustrate this judicial dissension. An analysis of those four Supreme Court decisions, as well as the lower court decisions that have subsequently grappled with Establishment Clause issues in the school context reflect the Court's sometimes shifting, and usually divided, Establishment Clause jurisprudence. In looking at those cases, certain major questions or areas of uncertainty may be identified. Focusing on these questions highlights the areas of divisiveness among the various Justices and may help the lower courts to resolve the confusion spawned by the Supreme Court Establishment Clause opinions. This Article will examine those four Supreme Court decisions, the major questions remaining, and the efforts of the lower courts in addressing religious issues in the school context.

Keywords: schools, establishment clause

JEL Classification: K30

Suggested Citation

Greff Schneider, Ronna, Getting Help with Their Homework: Schools, Lower Courts, and the Supreme Court Justices Look for Answers Under the Establishment Clause. Administrative Law Review, Vol. 53, p. 943, 2001, U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 08-06, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1091625

Ronna Greff Schneider (Contact Author)

University of Cincinnati - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0040
United States

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