Zorach v. Clauson,
343 U.S. 306 (1952)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952)

Zorach v. Clauson

No. 431

Argued January 31

February 1, 1952

Decided April 28, 1952

343 U.S. 306


Under § 3210 of the New York Education Law and the regulations thereunder, New York City permits its public schools to release students during school hours, on written requests of their parents, so that they may leave the school buildings and grounds and go to religious centers for religious instruction or devotional exercises. The same section makes school attendance compulsory; students not released stay in the classrooms, and the churches report to the schools the names of children released from public schools who fail to report for religious instruction. The program involves neither religious instruction in public schools nor the expenditure of public funds.

Held: This program does not violate the First Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U. S. 203, distinguished. Pp. 343 U. S. 308-315.

(a) By this system, New York has neither prohibited the "free exercise" of religion nor made a law "respecting an establishment of religion" within the meaning of the First Amendment. Pp. 343 U. S. 310-315.

(b) There is no evidence in the record in this case to support a conclusion that the system involves the use of coercion to get public school students into religious classrooms. Pp. 343 U. S. 311-312.

303 N.Y. 161, 100 N.E.2d 463, affirmed.

The New York Court of Appeals sustained N.Y. Education Law § 3210 and the regulations thereunder permitting absence of students from the public schools for religious observance and education, against the claim that the program thereunder violated the Federal Constitution. 303 N.Y. 161, 100 N.E.2d 463. On appeal to this Court, affirmed, p. 343 U. S. 315.

Page 343 U. S. 308

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