A New York statute directed the reimbursement to nonpublic schools of costs incurred by them in complying with certain state-mandated requirements, including the administration of standardized tests. The participation of church-related schools in this program was challenged as an unconstitutional ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, but the Supreme Court rejected the challenge.
Justice BYRON R. WHITE, writing for a narrowly divided Court, noted that a previous New York law authorizing reimbursement for test services performed by nonpublic schools had been found unconstitutional in Levitt v. Committee (1973). However, the new statute, unlike its predecessor, provided for state audit of school financial records to insure that public monies were used only for secular purposes.
Justice HARRY BLACKMUN, with whom Justices WILLIAM J. BRENNAN and THURGOOD MARSHALL joined, dissented. Blackmun stressed that New York's program involved direct payments by the state to a school engaged in a religious enterprise. Justice JOHN PAUL STEVENS also filed a brief dissent.
Committee v. Regan is another...