PROS - 5SupremeCtBalanced

“The establishment of religion clause means at least this: Neither a state nor the
federal government may set up a church. Neither can pass laws that aid one religion, aid
all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force a person to go to or to
remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in
any religion… Neither a state or the federal government may, openly or secretly,
participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the
words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to
erect ‘a wall of separation between church and state.’” This is a quote from the 1947
Supreme Court Case of Everson vs. the Board of Education. The Everson court case
established that all governmental actions must abide by the restrictions stated in the First
Amendment in the establishment clause which includes local, state, and national
government entities. In 1970, a New York lawyer sued the tax commission because it
offered a tax exemption to individuals who made contributions to religious organizations.
During the trial the Supreme Court upheld the tax exemption because it not only applied
to religious groups but also non-religious. It would also be unconstitutional to appose
taxes on religious affairs as it would cause the government to be involved in religious
affairs which is against the establishment clause. The tax exemption had also had been in
place for two centuries and no establishment had been made from it. The tax exemption
remained. The Zorach vs. Clauson court case of 1952 upheld both the establishment and
free exercise clause of the First Amendment. New York had a “release time” offered
through schools which allowed students off school grounds to attend religious classes
during school hours. Was the First Amendment being violated? No. With the “release
time” program, the religious classes were not being given on campus therefore the
establishment clause was not violated. The free exercise was also protected by allowing
students the option of taking advantage of the “release time” program for their religious