Mitchell v. Helms
- Case Date: 8/19/1999
- Project Name: Protecting America's Freedom: National Security and Defense
On August 19, 1999, WLF asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let private schools continue receiving federally-funded computers and other high-tech educational tools. Federal law gives state and local education agencies "block grants" to buy computers, videos, library books, and other educational materials. A group of taxpayers filed suit, claiming that the program violated the Constitution. The district court ultimately found that the program was constitutionally valid. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed, ruling that the program offends the Establishment Clause because it allows private religious schools to receive federally funded materials other than textbooks. In its brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, WLF argued that Congress need not discriminate against private religious schools to satisfy the Constitution, so long as such schools receive federal aid under the terms of a neutral government program.