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Grand Rapids School District v. Ball

Significance, Separating Public And Religious Education, Taking The Lemon Test, The End Of A Symbolic Union


Grand Rapids School District, Michigan


Six Grand Rapids, Michigan, taxpayers

Petitioner's Claim

That two local public-school programs, Shared Time and Community Education, violated the separation of church and state called for in the First Amendment by using public funds to support courses offered in religious schools.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Kenneth F. Ripple, Special Assistant Attorney General of Michigan

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

A. E. Dick Howard

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr. (writing for the Court), Warren E. Burger, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O'Connor, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., John Paul Stevens

Justices Dissenting

William H. Rehnquist, Byron R. White


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

1 July 1985


That the Grand Rapids programs did indeed violate the First Amendment.

Related Cases

  • Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).
  • Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402 (1985).
  • Agostini v. Felton, 117 S.Ct. 1997 (1997).

Further Readings

  • "Establishment of Religion." Harvard Law Review, November 1985, p. 173.
  • Fiske, Edward B. "Ruling Means Cities Must Work Out How to Get Help to Parochial Pupils." New York Times, 2 July 1985.
  • Gora, Joel M. "The Delicate Matter of Religion." ABA Journal, December 1985, p. 84.
  • Greenhouse, Linda. "High Court Bars Public Teachers in Church Schools." New York Times, 2 July 1985.

Additional topics

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