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.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Prof. Stephen Sugarman on the constitutionality of religious charter schools

Here's an important piece by Prof. Stephen Sugarman, "Is it Unconstitutional to Prevent Faith-Based Schools from Becoming Charter Schools?":

This article argues that it is unconstitutional for state charter school programs to preclude faith-based schools from obtaining charters. The first section describes the “school choice” movement of the past fifty years, situating charter schools in that movement. The current state of play of school choice is documented and the roles of charter schools, private schools (primarily faith-based schools), and public school choice options are elaborated. The second section argues that based on the current state of the law it should not be unconstitutional, under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, for states to elect to make faith-based schools eligible for charters, and, therefore, the current practice of formal discrimination on the basis of religion against families and school founders who want faith-based charter schools should be deemed unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. Put differently, this is not the sort of issue in which the “play in the joints” between the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses should apply so as to give states the option of restricting charter schools to secular schools.

Add to this yet another important paper by Prof. Nicole Stelle Garnett, "Sector Agnosticism and the Coming Transformation of Education Law":

Over the past two decades, the landscape of elementary and secondary education in the United States has shifted dramatically, due to the emergence and expansion of privately provided, but publicly funded, schooling options (including both charter schools and private-school choice devices like vouchers, tax credits and educational savings accounts). This transformation in the delivery of K12 education is the result of a confluence of factors — discussed in detail below — that increasingly lead education reformers to support efforts to increase the number of high quality schools serving disadvantaged students across all three educational sectors, instead of focusing exclusively on reforming urban public schools. As a result, millions of American children now attend privately operated, but publicly funded, schools. This rise in a “sector agnostic” education policy has profound implications for the state and federal constitutional law of education because it blurs the distinction between charter and private schools. This paper explores three of the most significant of these implications.


Garnett, Rick | Permalink