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I've let the Pledge of Allegiance ruling distract me from the Supreme Court's decision that school vouchers that are used to send students to religious private schools. This post is my preliminary thoughts as I attempt to catch up on the issue which is, in all honesty, more important than whether "under God" is in the pledge.

My feeling at the moment is that the court got it right. Using vouchers doesn't violate the separation of church and state anymore than it would if a person took some of their tax refund and bought a Bible with it. The government isn't supporting religion, it's allowing its citizens to support the school of their choice without discriminating against some schools on the basis of religion.

I certainly don't think vouchers are the solution to the educational system's woes, as a commentary from last year outlines. But I seem to be one of the few voucher opponents who will say that they're constitutional.

The problem is that our nation's modern reliance on the courts to throw out policies they don't like has transformed the significance of the issue. The court's ruling -- which technically said only that they're permissible -- has been taken as an endorsement of vouchers. Voucher opponents feel like they don't have a leg to stand on, and supporters (like President Bush) have taken this opportunity to say "look, the Supreme Court thinks they're the answer!" I've no doubt I'll find that some of the arguments presented in court dealt more with why vouchers are good or bad for students, which is really irrelevant to the constitutional question. But we'll see. I'll hopefully comment more once I'm up to speed on the issue.


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