More Mapping "Kingdom Gain" Through School Vouchers
Remember that our incoming Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has championed vouchers because they will, in her own words, lead to "greater Kingdom gain." In other words: voucher programs, by design, exist to support religious instruction.
Voucher supporters will claim that the Supreme Court's decision in Zelman v Simmons-Harris settled the constitutionality of vouchers back in 2002. But any fair reading of the majority's decision shows they predicated their argument on the idea that families were being given a "choice" to attend either religious or non-sectarian schools; therefore, voucher programs are facially neutral and not in violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause.
As David Souter points out in his dissent, however, the "choice" given to families isn't really a choice at all; it has the formal appearance of a "choice," but in reality, voucher programs give parents the "choice" of sending their children to a segregated, underfunded public school or a school that forces children to engage in religious practices. That's hardly neutral.
The Zelman majority does flips and twists to get around the so-called "Lemon Test," a legal precept that came out of the landmark Lemon v. Kurtzman case of 1971. The Lemon Test has three prongs:
- The statute must have a secular legislative purpose. (also known as the Purpose Prong)
- The principal or primary effect of the statute must not advance nor inhibit religious practice (also known as the Effect Prong)
- The statute must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religious affairs. (also known as the Entanglement Prong)