Mueller V. Allen Essay, Research Paper
MUELLER V. ALLEN
Did the government violate the Establishment Clause because they provided monetary support to the parents of all school-goers?
The 1st Amendment states that the Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
In 1983, case of Mueller v. Allen, made a few changes in the way the federal government helped out the children in schools. The question in the Mueller case was a Minnesota statute that allowed all parents to deduct tuition, textbook and transportation expenses from their gross income on state tax returns for their children attending elementary and secondary schools. The Minnesota law allowed a tax deduction of up to $500 for each child in grades K through 6, and up to $700 for each child in grades 7 through 12. Given that most parents of public school children incurred no tuition expenses, and that at the time 96 percent of Minnesota children in private schools attended religiously affiliated ones [1978-1979], it was clear that the bulk of the tax deductions would go to parents of children in private schools.
A group of Minnesota taxpayers brought suit against the Minnesota commissioner of revenue and Minnesota parents who had taken the tax deduction for expenses incurred in sending their children to parochial schools. The suit alleged that the law violated the Establishment Clause, because it gave financial assistance to sectarian institutions, which was a link between church and state.
Justice Rehnquist’s opinion in the Mueller case made a major distinction between direct aid and indirect aid to parochial schools. He said: “It is true, of course, that financial assistance provided to parents ultimately has an economic effect comparable to that of aid given directly to the schools attended by their children. It is also true, however, that under Minnesota’s arrangement public funds become available only as a result of numerous private choices of individual parents of school-age children.”
The Court concluded that under the Mueller Court’s view, this type of indirect aid is consistent with the neutrality principle explained in the Establishment Clause because it neither advances nor inhibits religion.