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Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District

Dissenting Opinions

Writing in dissent, Justice Blackmun contended that the Supreme Court should not have even weighed in on the constitutional questions in the case, since the issue of whether the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires the school district to provide an interpreter at a private school was still in doubt--and would have rendered the larger questions moot. On the issue of separation of church and state, Blackmun was unequivocal in asserting that the use of a public employee by a religious institution to promote a religious message was in violation of the Constitution. Blackmun wrote:

Today, the Court unnecessarily addresses an important constitutional issue, disregarding longstanding principles of constitutional adjudication. In so doing, the Court holds that placement in a parochial school classroom of a public employee whose duty consists of relaying religious messages does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. I disagree both with the Court's decision to reach this question and with its disposition on the merits.
In a separate dissent, Justice O'Connor agreed with Blackmun's assertion that the Court should have refused to even address the constitutional issue. She argued for vacating the lower court's decision on statutory grounds.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District - Historical Background, The Facts Of The Case, The Lower Courts Rule, The Supreme Court Rules