America is "one nation under God." Yet, running contrary to this strain is our equally firm commitment to the concept of separation of church and state. This heritage reflects our founding fathers' fear of the dangers presented by church interference with state affairs and of the inhibiting effect state involvement would have on religious freedom. The first amendment to the Federal Constitution was written to afford protection from both of these evils, and the judiciary has staunchly upheld the concepts embodied in it. One manifestation of this had been the reluctance of the United States Supreme Court to permit the use of public funds to support nonpublic education, regardless of the form of such aid. In a landmark decision, Everson v. Board of Education, the Court departed from this position and held that a state could furnish bus transportation to children attending nonpublic schools without violating the first amendment. Despite this approbation, subsequent state legislation of a similar nature has still been subjected to judicial scrutiny. The results have been inconsistent, as the constitutionality of these statutes has been questioned on the basis of potential violations of the Federal Constitution and of the more restrictive provisions of some state constitutions. During the last session of the Nebraska Legislature, such a statute was passed. L.B. 522 requires that under delineated circumstances, the state must furnish bus transportation to children attending nonprofit, nonpublic schools. The constitutionality of this statute may soon be challenged in the Nebraska courts as violating the state and federal constitutions. Such litigation will raise several new issues.
Roberta S. Stick,
Publicly Funded Transportation for Parochial School Students: New Issues,
55 Neb. L. Rev. 161
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol55/iss1/10