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Zorach v. Clauson

Zorach v. Clauson
Argued January 31 – February 1, 1952
Decided April 28, 1952
Full case name Zorach, et al. v. Clauson, et al., constituting the Board of Education of the City of New York, et al.
Citations 343 U.S. 306 (more)
72 S. Ct. 679; 96 L. Ed. 954; 1952 U.S. LEXIS 2773
Prior history Appeal from the Court of Appeals of New York
Released time programs are acceptable if the instruction takes place away from the school campus, for 1 hour per week, and with no public funding.
Court membership
</td></tr><tr><th colspan="2" style="text-align:center;background-color: #99c0ff; white-space:nowrap">Case opinions</th></tr><tr><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Majority</th><td>

Douglas, joined by Vinson, Reed, Burton, Clark, Minton</td></tr><tr><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Dissent</th><td> Black</td></tr><tr><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Dissent</th><td> Frankfurter</td></tr><tr><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Dissent</th><td> Jackson</td></tr><tr><th colspan="2" style="text-align:center;background-color: #99c0ff; white-space:nowrap">Laws applied</th></tr><tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align:center"> U.S. Const. amend. I</td></tr></table>

Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States considered a school district allowing students to leave school for part of the day to receive religious instruction.


New York state law permitted schools to allow some students to leave school during school hours for purposes of religious instruction or practice while requiring others to stay in school. Accordingly, students in New York City were allowed to leave only on written request of their guardians but the schools did not fund or otherwise assist in the development of these programs. The Greater New York Coordinating Committee on Released Time of Jews, Protestants and Roman Catholics did share their attendance with New York City Department of Education to prevent students from playing hooky, however. [1] Several parents sued the district for providing official sanction for religious instruction.

Opinion of the court

The Supreme Court upheld the arrangement finding that it did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment or the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the instruction was not held within the school building and received no public funds. William O. Douglas, writing for the majority, reasoned that "this 'released time' program involves neither religious instruction in public school classrooms nor the expenditure of public funds. ... The case is therefore unlike McCollum v. Board of Education."[2]

Three of the nine Justices dissented from the decision; Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter and Robert H. Jackson would have found the law unconstitutional. All three cited McCollum v. Board of Education (1948); they believed that the Court did not adequately distinguish between the circumstances in McCollum and the ones in Zorach. Jacksons' dissent was especially strong: "Today's judgment will be more interesting to students of psychology and of the judicial processes than to students of constitutional law."[2]

See also

Further reading

  • Sorauf, Frank J. (1959). "Zorach v. Clauson: The Impact of a Supreme Court Decision". American Political Science Review (The American Political Science Review, Vol. 53, No. 3) 53 (3): 777–791. JSTOR 1951943. doi:10.2307/1951943. 


  1. ^ Douglas, William O. (28 April 1952). "ZORACH v. CLAUSON". FindLaw. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Douglas, William O. (28 April 1952). "ZORACH V. CLAUSON". Legal Information Institute. Cornell Law School. Retrieved 3 May 2014.