ADL Says Supreme Court Ruling Creates a Troubling Breach
in Wall Separating Church and State
New York, NY, June 28, 2000 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today
expressed disappointment at the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Mitchell v.
Helms, saying the ruling creates "a very troubling new breach in the
wall separating church and state" by permitting the flow of taxpayer funds
to parochial schools.
"We believe that the Supreme Court’s decision in this case has created
a very troubling new breach in the wall separating church and state and opens
the door to a wide variety of governmental programs, including vouchers, which
would channel taxpayer dollars to religious institutions," said Howard P.
Berkowitz, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
"While we are encouraged that a majority of the court still opposes
government funds flowing directly to religious institutions to be used for
religious purposes, we remain deeply concerned about the kind of precedent this
ruling could establish for future church-state cases."
The Court upheld a federal program that provides educational materials to
sectarian schools that engage in religious indoctrination. The so-called
"Chapter II" program provides computers, computer software and library
books to schools in Louisiana, including those whose primary mission is
religious. In an amicus brief filed with the court, the League argued the
federal program applied in Louisiana was unconstitutional because the
educational materials in question could readily be used to advance the schools’
"It is clear from this ruling that four of the Supreme Court justices
are prepared to adopt a sweeping new interpretation of the First
Amendment," said Mr. Berkowitz and Mr. Foxman. "As a result,
proponents of government aid flowing to religious schools are only one vote shy
of obtaining a majority for a position that would support virtually any program
that extends government funding to all schools. This would be an ominous
development, one which should concern all Americans who continue to believe that
the best way to safeguard the religious freedom of all Americans is to maintain
the strictest possible separation."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.