Child Benefit Test

The child benefit test is a judicially constructed legal fiction that justifies government extension of benefits to religious schools via the rationale of supporting parent choice. Thus, pursuant to the child benefit test, students and their religiously affiliated nonpublic schools can receive some forms of public aid without violating the Establishment Clause's prohibition against the government enacting laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” The test was originally framed as a conduit to support services to religious schools where students were the direct beneficiaries. Later, it was expanded to rationalize providing services or funds where parents have made choices. In the process, the concept of the child as a beneficiary has become subordinated to a more expansive rationale supporting government assistance so long as a ...

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