US Supreme Court Upheld the Validity of the Adolescent Family Life Act

The Adolescent Family Life Act was designed to address the problem of adolescent pregnancy, and

The Adolescent Family Life Act was designed to address the problem of adolescent pregnancy, and among other things provided grants to public and nonprofit organizations engaged in "educational services relating to family life and problems associated with adolescent premarital sexual relations."

Congress recognized that "legislative or governmental action alone" was insufficient to deal with the problem, and accordingly the Act required that all federally funded services should "emphasize the provision of support by family members, religious and charitable organizataions." In addition, all applicants for federal grants had to demonstrate how they would involve religious and charitable organizations in the delivery of services and counseling.

A number of agencies associated with churches and religious denominations received federal funding under the Act, triggering a lawsuit challenging the validity of the Act. A federal district court struck down the Act, and the case was appealed directly to the Supreme Court.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court concluded that the Act did not violate the nonestablishment of religion clause. "Nothing in our previous cases," noted the Court, "prevents Congress from … recognizing the important part that religion or religious organizations may play in resolving certain secular problems." Further, "religious institutions need not be quarantined from public benefits that are neutrally available to all." However, the Court acknowledged that government funding cannot go to "pervasively sectarian" institutions, or toward "indoctrination into the beliefs of a particular religious faith."

But, the Court concluded that "nothing in our prior cases warrants the presumption" that religious agencies receiving funding under the Act "are not capable of carrying out their functions under the Act in a lawful, secular manner." Bowen v. Kendrick, 108 S. Ct. 2562 (1988)

Related Topics:

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

ajax-loader-largecaret-downcloseHamburger Menuicon_amazonApple PodcastsBio Iconicon_cards_grid_caretChild Abuse Reporting Laws by State IconChurchSalary Iconicon_facebookGoogle Podcastsicon_instagramLegal Library IconLegal Library Iconicon_linkedinLock IconMegaphone IconOnline Learning IconPodcast IconRecent Legal Developments IconRecommended Reading IconRSS IconSubmiticon_select-arrowSpotify IconAlaska State MapAlabama State MapArkansas State MapArizona State MapCalifornia State MapColorado State MapConnecticut State MapWashington DC State MapDelaware State MapFederal MapFlorida State MapGeorgia State MapHawaii State MapIowa State MapIdaho State MapIllinois State MapIndiana State MapKansas State MapKentucky State MapLouisiana State MapMassachusetts State MapMaryland State MapMaine State MapMichigan State MapMinnesota State MapMissouri State MapMississippi State MapMontana State MapMulti State MapNorth Carolina State MapNorth Dakota State MapNebraska State MapNew Hampshire State MapNew Jersey State MapNew Mexico IconNevada State MapNew York State MapOhio State MapOklahoma State MapOregon State MapPennsylvania State MapRhode Island State MapSouth Carolina State MapSouth Dakota State MapTennessee State MapTexas State MapUtah State MapVirginia State MapVermont State MapWashington State MapWisconsin State MapWest Virginia State MapWyoming State IconShopping Cart IconTax Calendar Iconicon_twitteryoutubepauseplay