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Case Basics
Docket No. 
No. 87-431
No. 87-462
No. 87-775
(Argued the cause for the appellees in Nos. 87-253, 87-431, and 87-775 and the appellants in No. 87-462)
(Argued the cause for the appellant in No. 87-775)
(Argued the cause for the appellant in Nos. 87-253 and 87-431, and for the federal appellee in No. 87-462)
Facts of the Case 

The Adolescent Family Life Act ("AFLA") provided federal funding for organizational services and research in the area of premarital teenage sexuality. Among other requirements, AFLA beneficiaries had to involve religious and governmental agencies in dealing with the problems they faced. Over time, AFLA benefited several organizations with institutional ties to religious denominations. Chan Kendrick, on behalf of several federal taxpayers, clergymen, and the American Jewish Congress, challenged AFLA's constitutionality. On appeal from a ruling favoring Kendrick, the Supreme Court granted Bowen certiorari.


Do AFLA's provisions, requiring its beneficiaries to involve both religious and governmental organizations in addressing the problems of teenage sexual relations, violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause?

Decision: 5 votes for Bowen, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 42 U.S.C. 300

No. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that the "advancement of religion" was not AFLA's primary effect. Although it funded religious and other institutions without expressly prohibiting the use of such funds for religious purposes, AFLA required potential recipients to reveal what services they intended to provide and how they would provide them. Thus, the government could protect against the misuse of its funds. At the same time, however, such oversight did not create an "excessive entanglement" between church and state because AFLA merely authorized funding of religiously affiliated, rather than pervasively sectarian, organizations. Finally, the Court remanded the matter to the district court for further determination of whether AFLA violated the establishment clause "as applied."

Cite this Page
BOWEN v. KENDRICK. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 27 August 2015. <>.
BOWEN v. KENDRICK, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 27, 2015).
"BOWEN v. KENDRICK," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 27, 2015,