Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

school vouchers in a time of increasing intolerance

Catholic schools are "public" schools in the best sense of the word, contributing as they do to the public - and common - good of the communities they serve. In many communities, they serve non-Catholic and poor students and their parents.

As Rick Garnett has said on this blog many times, in a healthy society, the state ought to recognize the public character of these institutions and support them through vouchers or a similar funding mechanism.  When the public schools were de facto Protestant and an anti-Catholic spirit filled the air, many states adopted Blaine Amendments to prohibit public funds being used to support parochial schools. 

Could the Blaine Amendments - as ugly as they were - be a blessing in disguise in a culture that is increasing intolerant of religious dissent from secular orthodoxy? Because of the Blaine Amendments, Catholic and other religious primary and secondary schools - unlike religious colleges, which are dependent on federally subsidized student loans - have had minimal entanglement with government money.

There may come a day in the not too distant future when religious colleges and univesities will be faced with a choice: capitulate to the secular orthodoxy or ween yourself from the government teat. The Blaine Amendments unintentially shield many primary and secondary schools from this choice. Over a decade ago, James Dwyer wrote Vouchers Within Reason, which argued that vouchers might provide a way to bring relgious schools and their parental patrons to heels without have to padlock school doors or put parents in jail (his words, not mine). When I reviewed his book, less than a decade after the Religious Freedom Restoration was enacted with overwhelming bi-partisan support, I was hopeful that government strings attached to vouchers would not threaten the character and culture of these religious schools. I am much less hopeful today and therefore am inclined to see the Blaine Amendments as an unexpected blessing.  Rick, I'd be interested in your take.

 

https://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2014/07/school-vouchers-in-a-time-of-increasing-intolerance.html

Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink