The School Bus Law: A Case Study in Education, Religion, and Politics

By Theodore Powell; Wayne Magnum Miller | Go to book overview
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VIII: CONCLUSION

THE DECISION on the school bus bill by the 1957 General Assembly provided a climax but not a conclusion in the religiouspolitical struggles in Connecticut.

The Supreme Court of the United States had developed three guides -- church-state separation, church-state cooperation, and the child-benefit theory -- which caused conflict on the Court and did not resolve conflict in Connecticut. In the Everson, McCollum, and Zorach opinions the Court majorities emphasized they were following the principle of separation. But this principle was coupled with that of child benefit in the Everson decision and with the cooperation doctrine in the Zorach decision. Although the first two principles-separation and child benefit -- were not necessarily in conflict, they did, in application, raise difficult problems of definition. Justice Black in the Everson opinion tried, not too successfully, to show the distinction between permissible government service to a child and prohibited government aid to a religious school. Black's reasoning was sound but his exposition was inadequate.

The key phrase in Black's explanation of the principle of separation as embodied in the First Amendment was his declaration that government could not "aid all religions."1 Clergymen and others who regard religion as vital to the public welfare sometimes have found it difficult to accept the Court's prohibition of nonpreferential aid to religion by government. Indeed the Court itself, in the Zorach

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