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July 03, 2002

So What's the Deal With Vouchers, Anyway?

On June 27th, the Supreme Court, in Zelman, Superintendent of Public Instruction of Ohio, etal. v. Simmons-Harris etal., (eventually it'll get a shorter name, probably "Zelman" and some numbers, but since it's so recent that stuff wasn't at the site) decided that vouchers for religious schools are Constitutional. OK, let's be fair, what they decided is that if a state offers vouchers for education of children, if the parents are the ones making the decision where the kids go to school, then it's Constitutional. This is such a no-brainer it's not surprising that it took the Supreme Court so long to finally say it.

The Cleveland, Ohio program was introduced to solve the problem they've had with really, really (I mean really) sucky schools. These schools were so bad they couldn't even pass the watered down, wimpy standards the state set for other public schools. Well, they set up some charter schools as well as some community schools (schools run by the community, not by the school district. Y'know they way it used to back when kids actually learned stuff in school). But even that wasn't making enough of a dent. There were plenty of private schools in the district so the state figured it could just let them pick up the slack, and offered vouchers to any parents who wished to send their kids there. The decision was the parent's. If they chose a charter school, a community school, tutoring, a non-religious private school or a religious private school, the choice was theirs. But you know how Liberals are about religion, they want it censored anywhere and everywhere.

Justice Stephens summed up the Liberal mindset on the issue when he wrote in his dissent, "Is a law that authorizes the use of public funds to pay for the indoctrination of thousands of grammar school children in particular religious faiths a law respecting an establishment of religion within the meaning of the First Amendment?" In that dissent Stephens referred to the teaching at religious schools as "religious indoctrination" three times. His hatred of religion was glaring.

Souter reiterated Stephen's animosity toward religion with long winded fervor. He wrote, "Public tax money will pay at a systemic level for teaching the covenant with Israel and Mosaic law in Jewish schools, the primacy of the Apostle Peter and the Papacy in Catholic schools, the truth of reformed Christianity in Protestant schools, and the revelation to the Prophet in Muslim schools, to speak only of major religious groupings in the Republic." Why this is supposed to be bad, he never explained. I guess he just assumed others would naturally share his disdain for all religion. He then quoted Everson (another Supreme Court decision) out of context with the following "No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever from they may adopt to teach or practice religion." He omitted the remainder of the paragraph which said, among other things, "No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance." So when vouchers for non-religious schools are allowed but vouchers for religious schools aren't, how would this not be punishing people for entertaining or professing religious beliefs? Or the following paragraph, which says in part, "[The government] cannot exclude individual Catholics, Lutherans, Mohammedans, Baptists, Jews, Methodists, Non-believers, Presbyterians, or the members of any other faith, because of their faith, or lack of it, from receiving the benefits of public welfare legislation."

Souter also wrote, "The majoritys [sic] statements of Establishment Clause doctrine cannot be appreciated without some historical perspective on the Courts announced limitations on government aid to religious education, and its repeated repudiation of limits previously set." Except that to Justice Souter, history began in 1947, because that where he started looking. Of course he dared not look earlier because the full history of the Supreme Court would have loudly proclaimed his rantings those of an idiot (accurately so). 

Rehnquist's conclusion was that, ". . . government programs that neutrally provide benefits to a broad class of citizens defined without reference to religion are not readily subject to an Establishment Clause challenge." (This is also one of the guys that dissented on Roe v. Wade, not something people mention too often). Of course such common sense seems too alien to the more Liberal members of the SC.

One argument the Libs made against Cleveland's programs was that since 96% of the parents chose religious schools, that made it, in effect the government support of religion. In fact that shows how easily Libs lie. You get 96% only if you ignore the kids whose parents sent them to Charter schools, Community schools and extra tutoring, other wise you'd get a mere 16.5%. Also ignoring the fact that the 96% is a lie, Souter claims that if 96% chose something, then there obviously wasn't much of a choice. He wants to base a Supreme Court decision on this kind of juvenile illogic. Makes you wonder how this nation's even survived this long.

Now there is the problem that another option was offered, that of the kids going to government schools outside the specified district, but every single one of those government schools refused to participate. But with the strangle hold the NEA has over government schools is that any surprise? And further wouldn't that be even more reason FOR vouchers?

The biggest hang up will be the strings. While O'Conner claimed that, ". . . a significant portion of the funds appropriated for the voucher program reach [sic] religious schools without restrictions on the use of these funds." The truth is that there are strings attached. Private schools must agree not to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or ethnic background, or to advocate or foster unlawful behavior or teach hatred of any person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Souter showed how loosely Liberals interpret "hatred" when he wrote, "Not all taxpaying Protestant citizens, for example, will be content to underwrite the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church condemning the death penalty. Nor will all of Americas [sic] Muslims acquiesce in paying for the endorsement of the religious Zionism taught in many religious Jewish schools, which combines a nationalistic sentiment in support of Israel with a deeply religious element. Nor will every secular taxpayer be content to support Muslim views on differential treatment of the sexes, or, for that matter, to fund the espousal of a wifes [sic] obligation of obedience to her husband, presumably taught in any schools adopting the articles of faith of the Southern Baptist Convention." The truth is that Atheists and Agnostics have always been the ones who objected to vouchers, since government schools already more or less teach their religion. For the most part Christians, Jews, Moslems, etc. see no problem with vouchers. But this attitude illustrates how Liberals will interpret any and all religious teachings as hatred, in the next level of their attack.

Comments

Posted by Jack Lewis at July 3, 2002 12:55 PM