BOARD OF EDUCATION v. ALLEN

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
660
Appellee 
Board of Education of Central School District No. 1 et al.
Appellant 
James E. Allen Jr., Commissioner of Education of the State of New York et al.
Advocates
(argued the cause for the appellants)
(Assistant Attorney General of New York, rgued the cause for appellee Allen)
(argued the cause for appellees Rock et al.)
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Facts of the Case 

A 1965 amendment to New York's Education Law required public school boards to lend textbooks to elementary and secondary school students enrolled in private and parochial schools. The Board of Education for New York Central School District No. 1, contending that the law violated the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment, filed suit against James Allen, Commissioner of Education, requesting a declaratory injunction to prevent enforcement of the statute. The trial court agreed with the board and found the statute unconstitutional. The Appellate Division reversed the ruling, finding that the boards lacked standing. On appeal, the New York Court of Appeals ruled the boards did have standing, but also found that, because the law's purpose was to benefit all students regardless of the type of school they attended, the law did not violate the First Amendment.

Question 

Do the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment forbid New York from requiring that public school boards loan textbooks to parochial school students without cost?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Allen, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

No. In a 6-3 opinion authored by Justice Byron R. White, the Court applied the test constructed in Abington School District v. Schempp and found that, because the stated legislative purpose and necessary effects of the statute did not advance any one religion or religion in general, the law did not violate the First Amendment. Because the books were given to the students, rather than the parochial schools themselves, the Court reasoned, "the financial benefit is to parents and children, not schools."

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BOARD OF EDUCATION v. ALLEN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 20 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1967/1967_660>.
BOARD OF EDUCATION v. ALLEN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1967/1967_660 (last visited October 20, 2014).
"BOARD OF EDUCATION v. ALLEN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 20, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1967/1967_660.