Everson v. Board of Education

Everson v. Board of Education was the first case in which the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of government aid to parochial schools. In this case, the Board of Education of Ewing Township, under authority granted to it by a New Jersey statute, authorized reimbursement to parents of money spent for bus transportation of their children, including transportation of children to Catholic parochial schools. Everson, a resident of Ewing Township, filed a suit against the board of education in which he contended that the reimbursement of money to parents of parochial school students violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Court concluded that the board of education rule did not violate the Establishment Clause. The prohibition of the establishment of religion, the Court reasoned, “erected a wall between church and state” that prevents the government from passing laws that aid one religion, aid all religions, or favor one religion over another. However, a state cannot exclude individuals from receiving generally available public welfare benefits just because they are members of a certain religious faith. The legislation at issue in Everson did not violate the Establishment Clause because it did nothing to promote the parochial schools; it only provided students of both public and parochial schools equal access to affordable transportation.

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