Mitchell v. Helms

Mitchell v. Helms: Facts of the Case

Mitchell v. Helms: The Court’s Ruling

Mitchell v. Helms (2000) stands out as the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that a federal program that loaned instructional materials and equipment to schools, including those that were religiously affiliated, was permissible under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The program, known as Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 (Chapter 2), provided a mechanism for local educational agencies, usually public school boards, to use federal monies to purchase secular, neutral, and nonideological materials and equipment and lend them to nonpublic schools. The amount of federal funds spent on the schools was based on the number of children enrolled in each school.

Regina R. Umpstead

See also Agostini v. Felton; Establishment Clause; Lemon v. Kurtzman; Meek v. Pittenger; Wolman v. Walter

Legal Citations

  • Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203 (1997). 
  • Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981, 20 U.S.C. §§ 7301 et seq. 
  • Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). 
  • Meek v. Pittenger, 421 U.S. 349 (1975). 
  • Mitchell v. Helms, 530 U.S. 793 (2000) reh’g denied, 530 U.S. 1296 (2000), on remand sub nom. Helms v. Picard, 229 F.3d 467 (5th Cir. 2000). 
  • Wolman v. Walter, 433 U.S. 229 (1977). 
  • Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002).