Today, the United States Supreme Court announced that it would decide this term whether publicly funded school voucher programs were constitutional by agreeing to review a federal appellate court’s decision that struck down such a program in Cleveland, Ohio. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, through its Institute for Public Affairs, welcomed the high court’s acceptance of this case.
The Cleveland program has allowed some 4,000 students from mostly low-income families to receive tuition vouchers of up to $2,500 apiece to attend other private or public schools if their parents decided local schools did not meet their needs. After being upheld as constitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court, voucher opponents to their attack to the federal courts where they obtained a ruling declaring the program an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. The Supreme Court will now render the final decision on this question. The Orthodox Union has filed friend of the court briefs in support of the program throughout the many stages of the litigation.
Nathan Diament, director of the Union’s Institute, issued the following statement in the wake of the Supreme Court announcement:
The time has come to settle the question of whether school voucher programs are constitutional. The time has come to determine whether the simple fact that a parent freely chooses to send her child to a religious school means that that parent may not receive any public assistance in securing her child a better education. The time has come to declare whether the Constitution demands some forms of religious discrimination.
We are confident that the nation’s highest court will recognize that Cleveland’s program is properly structured and constitutional. It puts power and resources in the hands of parents to ensure their children are well educated as they see fit; it does not constitute an improper establishment of religion. We look forward to the argument and to the court’s ruling.