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At issue in Zelman v. Simmons Harris (2002) was the constitutionality of a program from Ohio that provided educational vouchers for children from poor families. Reversing earlier judgments to the contrary, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the program because it offered aid pursuant to neutral secular criteria that neither favored nor disfavored religion, was available to religious and secular beneficiaries, and was available to parents based on their own independent, private choices.

Background of the Case

The Supreme Court has generally interpreted the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as preventing direct governmental funding of religious institutions. However, the government can provide indirect aid in a variety of ways. For instance, taxpayers can take deductions for donations to churches, and ...

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