Pearl Challenges New Parochjaid Law

The Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty (PEARL) filed suit in federal court here today challenging the constitutionality of a new $8.2 million state law providing reimbursement to non-public schools for the cost of record-keeping services mandated by the state. The suit asks for a three-judge federal court to declare the law violative of the First Amendment and to enjoin State Comptroller Arthur Levitt and State Education Commissioner Ewald B. Nyquist from making payments to parochial schools under the statute.

The action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Leo Pfeffer, counsel for PEARL, a coalition of 36 civic, religious, education, labor and community organizations in New York State. In April 1972, in the same court, a three-judge federal panel struck down the 1970 New York Mandated Services Act, which provided $28 million in public funds for reimbursement to parochial schools for record keeping services. That ruling was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a series of parochiaid decisions in June 1973. At the same time, the high court struck down a 1972 New York statute providing funds for building maintenance and repair reimbursement to religious schools and tuition grants and tax credits to parochial school parents. All had been challenged by PEARL, which earlier had also brought a successful federal suit against a 1971 New York law providing for the payment of salaries of the school teachers of secular subjects.

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