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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for Americans for Public Schools et al., as amici curiae, urging reversal)
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
Location: Congress
Facts of the Case 

Florence Flast and a group of taxpayers challenged federal legislation that financed the purchase of secular textbooks for use in religious schools. Flast argued that such use of tax money violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A district court held that the federal courts should defer when confronted with taxpayer suits directed against federal spending programs.


Did Flast, as a taxpayer, have standing to sue the government's spending program?

Decision: 8 votes for Flast, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Article 3, Section 2, Paragraph 1: Case or Controversy Requirement

In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court rejected the government's argument that the constitutional scheme of separation of powers barred taxpayer suits against federal taxing and spending programs. In order to prove a "requisite personal stake" in such cases, taxpayers had to 1) establish a logical link between their status as taxpayers and the type of legislative enactment attacked, and 2) show the challenged enactment exceeded specific constitutional limitations imposed upon the exercise of Congressional taxing and spending power. The Court held that Flast had met both parts of the test.

Cite this Page
FLAST v. COHEN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1967/1967_416>.
FLAST v. COHEN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1967/1967_416 (last visited August 25, 2015).
"FLAST v. COHEN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1967/1967_416.