Mitchell v. Helms: Facts of the Case

Mitchell v. Helms

Mitchell v. Helms: The Court’s Ruling

At issue in Mitchell was implementation of Chapter 2 in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. During an average year in Jefferson Parish, about 30% of the federal Chapter 2 monies were allocated for nonpublic schools. Officials at the local educational agency (LEA), a public entity, used the funds to purchase library and media materials and instructional equipment, such as books; computers; computer software; slide, movie, and overhead projectors; maps; globes; and films that were then lent to the private schools. The nonpublic schools were selected for participation based on the applications they submitted to the LEA. The vast majority of the nonpublic schools that benefited from the program were religiously affiliated.

After a federal trial court upheld the constitutionality of Chapter 2, the Fifth Circuit reversed in favor of its opponents. On further review, a plurality of the Supreme Court upheld the statute as constitutional.