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Valley Forge College v. Americans United

Significance, Taxpayer Standing, Right To Sue, Impact


Valley Forge Christian College


Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., et al.

Petitioner's Claim

That donation of a surplus federal facility to a private sectarian college did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

C. Clark Hodgson, Jr.

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Lee Boothby

Justices for the Court

Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist (writing for the Court), Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

12 January 1982


Reversed a court of appeals finding that citizens can sue the government for spending public monies on religious institutions by claiming violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

Related Cases

  • Frothingham v. Mellow, 262 U.S. 447 (1923).
  • Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947).
  • Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968).
  • National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley, U.S. 97=371 (1998).

Further Readings

  • "The Art of Avoidance: Supreme Court Puts on a Good Show, But It May Opt to Not Rule on Merits of a First Amendment Case Involving the NEA," Casper Star-Tribune, April 12, 1998.
  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt. Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1997.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988