Freedom from Religion Foundation v. McCallum

324 F.3d 880 (2003)

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Freedom from Religion Foundation v. McCallum

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
324 F.3d 880 (2003)

Facts

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when a parolee violated the terms of his parole, his parole officer had the option of offering enrollment in a halfway house in lieu of returning to prison. The state contracted with several halfway houses, all of which were secular except one, Faith Works. Faith Works was a Christian-based halfway house that offered a nine-month residential program. The secular houses offered only three-month programs. When the state contracted with Faith Works, it waived its typical bidding process due to the favorable length of the residential program. A parolee could choose whichever option he preferred, although parole officers might make recommendations. If a parole officer recommended Faith Works, the officer would disclose the fact that it was Christian based and would also recommend one of the secular options. When a parolee enrolled in any of the halfway houses, the state reimbursed a portion of the cost. The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FRF) (plaintiff), a taxpayer, sued Wisconsin correctional authorities (defendants) to enjoin them from funding Faith Works, claiming that the funding violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. FRF argued that the parole officers’ recommendations were purely subjective and possibly influenced by religious viewpoints and, further, that because Faith Works was the better-quality program, the parolees had no real choice. After a bench trial, the district court dismissed the case, and FRF appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)

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