Recent Court Decisions

July 2002

The courts have been busy in recent days with a flurry of rulings that could significantly impact the future of public education:

  • By a 5-4 vote the Supreme Court also upheld a program in Oklahoma that required students who participated in after-school activities to submit to random drug testing. They determined that the schools’ interest in ridding their campuses of drugs outweighs the individual student’s right to privacy.
  • By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court Justices overturned a lower court ruling that struck down an experimental private school voucher program in Cleveland. This ruling clears the way for the use of vouchers to empower parents to choose options other than public education. The Court reasoned that children in this program had a theoretical choice of attending religious schools, secular private academies, suburban public schools or charter schools run by parents or others outside the education establishment. If public education is gong to survive in this century it is going to have to work harder to ensure the community that it can achieve high academic standards and appeal to alienated constituencies that it can treat different points of view fairly.
  • A Federal Appeals Court in San Francisco (9th Circuit) has declared that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because the phrase "one nation under God" violates the separation of church and state. This ruling brought a firestorm of condemnation from political leaders and most legal scholars expect it to be overturned by the full 9th Circuit Court, or by the Supreme Court. If the ruling stands, the decision by the nation's most liberal appellate court would take effect in several months, banning the pledge from being recited in schools in the nine Western states under the court's jurisdiction: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Wayne Jacobsen, President
BridgeBuilders

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Worldviews Education Watch (WEW) is a free service provided by BridgeBuilders offering the latest information on religious liberty and public education drawn from court cases, policies and current events. It will also share examples of successful partnerships and cooperation between public schools and faith communities.

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