Bd. of Educ. v. Grumet
Supreme Court of the United States
March 30, 1994, Argued ; June 27, 1994 , Decided
[*690] [***552] [**2484] JUSTICE SOUTER delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Parts II (introduction) and II-A.
The village of Kiryas Joel in Orange County, New York, is a religious enclave of Satmar Hasidim, practitioners of a strict form of Judaism. The village fell within the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District until a special state statute passed in 1989 carved out a separate district, following village [****7] lines, to serve this distinctive population. 1989 N. Y. Laws, ch. 748. The question is whether the Act creating the separate school district violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, binding on the States through the Fourteenth Amendment. Because this unusual Act is tantamount to an allocation of political power on a religious criterion and neither presupposes nor requires governmental impartiality toward religion, we hold that it violates the prohibition against establishment.
The Satmar Hasidic sect takes its name from the town near the Hungarian and Romanian border where, [***553] in the early years of this century, Grand Rebbe Joel Teitelbaum molded the group into a distinct community. After World War II and the destruction of much of European Jewry, the Grand [*691] Rebbe and most of his surviving followers moved to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. Then, 20 years ago, the Satmars purchased an approved but undeveloped subdivision in the town of Monroe and began assembling the community that has since become the village of Kiryas Joel. When a zoning dispute arose in the course of settlement, the Satmars presented the Town Board [****8] of Monroe with a petition to form a new village within the town, a right that New York's Village Law gives almost any group of residents who satisfy certain procedural niceties. See N. Y. Village Law, Art. 2 (McKinney 1973 and Supp. 1994). Neighbors who did not wish to secede with the Satmars objected strenuously, and after arduous negotiations the proposed boundaries of the village of Kiryas Joel were drawn to include just the 320 acres owned and inhabited entirely by Satmars. The village, incorporated in 1977, has a population of about 8,500 today. Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, eldest son of the current Grand Rebbe, serves as the village rov (chief rabbi) and rosh yeshivah (chief authority in the parochial schools).
The residents of Kiryas Joel are vigorously religious people who make few concessions to the modern world and go to great lengths to avoid assimilation into it. They interpret the Torah strictly; segregate the sexes outside the home; speak Yiddish as their primary language; eschew television, radio, and English-language publications; and dress in distinctive ways that include headcoverings and special garments for boys and modest dresses for girls. Children are educated in [****9] private religious schools, most boys at the United Talmudic Academy where they receive a thorough grounding in the Torah and limited exposure to secular subjects, and most girls at Bais Rochel, an affiliated school with a curriculum designed to prepare girls for their roles as wives and mothers. See generally W. Kephart & W. Zellner, Extraordinary Groups (4th ed. 1991); I. Rubin, Satmar, An Island in the City (1972).Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.
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512 U.S. 687 *; 114 S. Ct. 2481 **; 129 L. Ed. 2d 546 ***; 1994 U.S. LEXIS 4830 ****; 62 U.S.L.W. 4665; 94 Cal. Daily Op. Service 4818; 94 Daily Journal DAR 8917; 8 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 359
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF KIRYAS JOEL VILLAGE SCHOOL DISTRICT, PETITIONER 93-517 v. LOUIS GRUMET ET AL. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF MONROE-WOODBURY CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, PETITIONER 93-527 v. LOUIS GRUMET ET AL. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW YORK, PETITIONER 93-539 v. LOUIS GRUMET ET AL.
Prior History: [****1] ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK.
Disposition: 81 N. Y. 2d 518, 618 N.E.2d 94, 601 N.Y.S.2d 61, affirmed.
religious, religion, accommodation, village, exemption, church, handicapped, invalidate, delegation, secular, attend, sacramental, adherents, peyote, favoritism, sectarian, civic, impermissible, objectors, segregate, military, liquor, zoning, consolidation, Disabilities, abandoning, alleviate, criterion, parochial, territory
Education Law, Departments of Education, State Departments of Education, Authority of Departments of Education, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Religion, Establishment of Religion, Bill of Rights, General Overview, Free Exercise of Religion, Religion in Schools, Establishment Clause Protections