Walz v. Tax Commission 397 U.S. 664 (1970)
WALZ v. TAX COMMISSION 397 U.S. 664 (1970)
In this 8–1 decision, the Supreme Court added a new element to the test for the constitutionality of financial aid to religious institutions. Chief Justice warren e. burger rejected Walz's claim that a state's grant of tax exemption to property used only for religious purposes violated the establishment of religion clause of the first amendment. Adding to tests already elaborated in abington school district v. schempp (1963), Burger required assurance that "the end result—the effect—[of a grant of tax exemption] is not an excessive government entanglement with religion. The test is inescapably one of degree." Commenting that "the course of constitutional neutrality in this area cannot be an absolutely straight line," he said that taxing a church would have involved even more "entanglement" than exempting them. Justice william o. douglas, dissenting, believed that torcaso v. watkins (1961) governed. He concluded that "a tax exemption is a subsidy."
(see also: Government Aid to Religious Institutions.)