The New York Village of Kiryas Joel practiced Satmar Hasidism, a strict form of Judaism. The students in this village attended private schools; however their schools did not provide students with disabilities special services. The students with disabilities were forced to attend public schools. The parents claimed that the students were taunted and traumatized by their public school experience. The village is within the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District. In 1989, a special state statute, N.Y.Laws, ch. 748, allows almost any group of residents who satisfy certain requirements to form a new village. New York legislature exercised the law to redraw district lines around a village that practiced strict Judaism. This rezoning created a school that excluded those they did not practice Samtar Hasidism. These new lines created a more sheltered setting, but did not allow the schools to practice religion.
The creation of a public school district that only excludes everyone but one particular religion is the major issue in this case. The claim is that this is a violation of the Establishment Claus, specifically the separation between church and state. The taxpayers and the association of state school boards claimed that the new district lines violated the Establishment Clause; a government should not demonstrate a preference for one religion over another, or religion over non-religion in general
The case Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) created a 3 prong test that was used to deciding if the Establishment Clause had been violated. The Lemon test states 1) have a secular purpose, (2) not have as a primary effect the advancement or inhibition of religion, and (3) not foster an excessive entanglement with religion.
The final decision was 6 votes for Grumet, 3 vote(s) against. Justice Blackmun, Justice Ginsburg, Justice O’Connor, Justice Stevens, and Justice Souter agreed that Chapter 748 of New York State law violated the Federal Constitution’s First Amendment’s Establishment of Religion Clause, by enabling the creation of a separate school district that has common religious beliefs and practices. Justice Souter’s stated, “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion" (Kiryas Joel v. Grumet, 1994). He also state that the creation of a school district for one religious group "crosses the line from...