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(93-517),
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  SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


Nos. 93-517, 93-527 and 93-539


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

on writs of certiorari to the court of appeals of new york

[June 27, 1994]

Justice Stevens , with whom Justice Blackmun and Instead, the State responded with a solution that affirmatively supports a religious sect's interest in segregating itself and preventing its children from associating with their neighbors. The isolation of these children, while it may protect them from "panic, fear and trauma," also unquestionably increased the likelihood that they would remain within the fold, faithful adherents of their parents' religious faith. By creating a school district that is specifically intended to shield children from contact with others who have "different ways," the State provided official support to cement the attachment of young adherents to a particular faith. It is telling, in this regard, that two thirds of the school's full time students are Hasidic handicapped children from outside the village; the Kiryas Joel school thus serves a population far wider than the village--one defined less by geography than by religion. See ante, at 5, 13-14, n. 5.

Affirmative state action in aid of segregation of this character is unlike the evenhanded distribution of a public benefit or service, a "release time" program for public school students involving no public premises or funds, or a decision to grant an exemption from a burdensome general rule. It is, I believe, fairly characterized as establishing, rather than merely accommodating, religion. For this reason, as well as the reasons set out in Justice Souter's opinion, I am persuaded that the New York law at issue in these cases violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.