NEW YORK (Jun. 25)
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a blanket decision today, invalidated all substantial forms of state aid for nonpublic schools currently in effect and apparently doomed future efforts to obtain such aid within constitutional bounds.
The 6-3 decision was hailed by Jewish groups which have been in the forefront of the legal battle against parochiaid.
Orthodox spokesmen who just as vigorously have been seeking public monies for support of financially ailing Jewish schools greeted it with expressions of disappointment and dismay.
Specifically, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional New York State’s 1970 Mandated Services Act and all three parts of the 1972 omnibus bill which granted non-public schools in the state money for maintenance and repairs and provided tuition reimbursement for low-Income parents and tax credits. for all parents of children attending parochial schools.
The Court also declared unconstitutional a 1972 Pennsylvania tuition reimbursement statute and upheld a lower court decision in Ohio against tax credits for parochial school parents.
REPORTED LESS: $10 MILLION
Rabbi Bernard Goldenberg, associate director of Torah Umesorah, the National Society of Hebrew Day Schools, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that today’s decision will cost the 185 Hebrew day schools in New York State $6-7 million in state aid this year. Rabbi Moshe Sherer, president of the Agudat Israel of America, put the loss at $4-5 million in New York State.
He said the potential loss of Jewish day schools nationwide was at least $10 million because the Supreme Court has undercut a campaign by various Jewish and other groups to obtain federal tax credits for non-public schools. Rabbi Sherer is president of Citizens Relief for Education By Income Tax (CREDIT), a national coalition of Orthodox Jewish and Roman Catholic groups.
Rabbi Sherer told the JTA that the group will hold an emergency meeting in Washington later this week to determine if any constitutional avenues remain open to pursue their objectives.
Rabbi Sherer and Rabbi Goldenberg said that the burden for providing urgently needed financial assistance for Jewish day schools now rests on the Jewish federations, the community and the secular organizations that successfully led the court fight against parochiaid.
Leo Pfeffer, special counsel for the Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty (PEARL) which carried the anti-parochiaid fight to the Supreme Court told the JTA today that he was “certain that the Jewish day schools will not be prejudiced by this decision and they will be able to maintain and increase their efforts by obtaining funds from the Jewish community and in particular the Jewish welfare funds.”
Pfeffer, who argued his brief before the nation’s highest court, added, “I think the decision is very good. It safeguards the Jewish day schools from governmental Interference into their affairs and protects the religious freedom of all Americans.”
Theodore R. Mann, vice-president of the American Jewish Congress and chairman of its Commission on Law, Social Action and Urban Affairs, also welcomed the Supreme Court ruling. Mann, a Philadelphia lawyer and businessman who argued the case against the Pennsylvania law before the Supreme Court, said he hoped that “Government officials, from the President down, will recognize that these decisions preclude further efforts to find a way around the constitutional prohibition embodied in the First Amendment of government aid to sectarian schools.”