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West Side School

District vs. Mergens


(1990)
BY: Bianca Vega and Ana RodriguezMazariegos

Constitution Issue in Question:


Is Holding a Bible Class After School
Constitutional?

Summary
West Side vs. Mergens case evolved when a group of students were turned away
from creating a bible club because it was considered unconstitutional. The
school district decided not to allow them because there werent funding enough
and it was not considered an extracurricular class and/or activity. Because of
this students decided to sue the school and expressed that they are violating
their right to freedom of religion.

Definitions
First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting
an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
abridging the freedom of speech, or of
the press; or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the government for a redress of
grievances.

Establishment Clause:
prohibits the government from making
any law respecting an establishment of
religion. This clause not only forbids the
government from establishing an official
religion, but also prohibits government
actions that unduly favor one religion
over another. It also prohibits the
government from unduly preferring
religion over non-religion, or non-religion
over religion.

West Side School District Opinion

Its not an extracurricular

Violates the first amendment so because of this it makes the school seem as if it promoting only one religion
and not others.

Mergens was whether the Equal Access Act had the primary effect of promoting religion so was in violation
of the Establishment Cause.

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or


prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of
the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of
grievances

Doesnt violate the Equal Access Act

School didnt want teachers to fund the students

Mergens Opinion

Students made the argument that the school was violating the Equal Access Act which
granted equal access to express religious, political, philosophical or other content

The equal access act also forbids schools from discriminating against clubs or denying
them equal access to school facilities because of their philosophical or religious
viewpoints

If schools allow for a chess club or LGBT club to exist then they should allow a bible club to
exist. These other clubs are also non extracurricular.

Final Decision of the Court


The Court rejected the boards contention that granting full student organizational benefits to a religious
organization
The Supreme Court agreed that because the Equal Access Act is neutral and promotes both secular and religious
speech, it did not violate the Establishment Clause violation.
According to the Equal Access Act (EAA), secondary schools receiving federal funds must allow non instructional-related
groups equal access to their facilities for meetings before and after school or during non instructional periods of the day.
The EAA was intended to open school facilities to religiously oriented groups, which had previously been barred from
using facilities under constitutional prohibitions on the involvement of government in religion. It has also been used by
other groups, especially gay and lesbian organizations, which had previously been barred from school grounds.
The Court confirmed that these clubs are not considered to be school boardsponsored if government or agents of the state, more
specifically, public school teachers, do not directly control, conduct, or regularly attend the meetings. Therefore, as long as the board
did not sponsor the club by providing faculty that promote, direct, control, or regularly attend the religious club meetings, the Court
was satisfied that it was not at risk for excessive entanglement

Our Opinion
Bianca:

Ana:

Bible clubs should be allowed in schools


because there is no reason why not to have it in
schools. If LGBT clubs, self esteem clubs and
chess clubs could exists then I see why not bible
clubs can also be included in schools too.

In my opinion, I feel like they should allow bible


classes because the first amendment supports it.
Schools dont realize each student has the decision to
assist the club or not. It wont discriminate any other
religions because if students dont want to read the
bible than they have the right not to. Also, school
have let other clubs exist when they arent really in
the curriculum. Bible classes teach and student
learns so technically it is like a regular class but like I
said before it depends on the students wants to take
it or not.

Thank you