Summary of Argument in Zobrest (1993)

Zobrest brief

Front cover of the brief for Petitioners in Zobrest.

This brief was submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States by the Attorneys for Petitioners in Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District. The Counsel of Record for the Zobrest family was William Bentley Ball, a seasoned lawyer with a track record of defending the right to receive a religious education. In Zobrest, Ball argued that a deaf boy (Jim Zobrest) was entitled to receive sign language interpretation at his Catholic high school. The question presented was as follows:

Does the Establishment Clause bar a local educational agency from providing, under the EHA [Education of the Handicapped Act], the service of a certified sign language interpreter to a deaf child on the premises of his religious school or from reimbursing his parents for the cost thereof?

On February 24, 1993, the Supreme Court heard Ball’s oral argument (click to listen to the audio).

For more background on the case, please see the full text of the 1992 brief. Below is the Summary of Argument.

Zobrest brief


1. How does the Zobrest case reinforce parental choice?

2. The decision in this case was narrow, 5-4. Do you agree with Ball that denying sign language interpretation to Jim Zobrest at his Catholic school was a violation of the Free Exercise Clause? Explain your reasoning.


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