Americorps Aid To Religious Schools Upheld

A federal appeals court has found constitutional a publicly funded AmeriCorps program that allows teachers to offer instruction at Catholic parochial schools.

A three-judge panel of the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held in American Jewish Congress v. Corporation for National and Community Service that the program did run afoul of the First Amendment.

AmeriCorps offers tuition funds for individuals who perform community services and provides $400 cash grants to organizations sponsoring the volunteers. Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing that the federal program did not include an effective way to monitor how the public funds were being used.

But the appeals court cited recent Supreme Court rulings holding that some government funding of religion does not violate the First Amendment. No reasonable person, the court said, would view the AmeriCorps program as a government endorsement of religion.