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ACLU-NJ v. Hendricks

Last Update: June 18, 2018

What's at Stake

In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of New Jersey, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Barry, Corrado & Grassi, P.C. filed suit challenging more than $11 million in state grants to religious institutions that train clergy. The lawsuit argues that the grants violate the state constitution and Law Against Discrimination.

In April 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie approved grant funds for 176 colleges and universities for construction projects through a voter-approved bond sale. The list included $10.6 million to Beth Medrash Govoha, an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva, and $645,323 to Princeton Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian seminary. Our lawsuit alleges the grants violate multiple provisions of the New Jersey constitution, including Article I, paragraph 3, which says that the government cannot force anyone to pay taxes to support places of worship or “maintenance of any minister or ministry.”

The state appeals court ruled in our favor in May 2016, holding that the grants violate Article I, paragraph 3 of the state constitution. On appeal, the New Jersey Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts for further fact-finding.

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