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Smith v. Ricci

Supreme Court of New Jersey
446 A.2d 501 (1982)


Mary Smith and others (plaintiffs) appealed the enactment of a regulation by the State Board of Education (the Board) that required each local school district to develop and implement a family life education program (the program) in public elementary and high schools. The regulation was enacted in response to a detailed committee report showing increased rates of teen pregnancy and premature births in the state and the corresponding negative impacts on youths, families, and communities. The program taught students about sexuality and other similar topics such as family structure, growing up, and dating. A student could be excused from any part of the program without penalty if his or her parent submitted a signed statement indicating that the topic was in conflict with his or her religious beliefs. The plaintiffs claimed that the regulation infringed upon their right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. Before the appellate court heard the matter, the Supreme Court of New Jersey granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Clifford, J.)

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