WILL seeks to protect “Catholic charter school” in critical first amendment case that underlies the national school choice debate happening in America
The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in defense of a Catholic charter school. The Oklahoma Attorney General is attempting to defend state statutes that support only “sectarian” or non-religious charters. WILL believes the highest court in the state of Oklahoma should deny that effort.
The Quotes: WILL Associate Counsel, Skylar Croy, stated, “The Attorney General’s actions are very troubling, and he should know better. To discriminate and allocate state funds based on religious grounds is a clear violation of rights enshrined by the Constitution in the First Amendment. Not only do choice, private, and charter schools play a vital role in our education system, but religious discrimination has no place in our country. We respectfully advise the Oklahoma Supreme Court to deny the Petition.”
Additional Background: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution codified a freedom of religion, stating, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Accordingly, the United States Supreme Court has instructed that “upon even slight suspicion that proposals for state intervention stem from animosity to religion or distrust of its practices, all officials must pause to remember their own high duty to the Constitution and the rights it secures.”
The Story of WILL as a School Choice Champion: School choice began in Wisconsin in the early 1990s with the creation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (the “MPCP”). The creation of the MPCP was a bipartisan effort between the legislature, which was then controlled by Democrats, and Republican Governor Tommy Thompson. The MPCP was created in reaction to the poor academic results from public schools in the City of Milwaukee. Since WILL’s founding in 2011, we have been focused on bolstering and expanding the program—doing so through legal fights in court and legislative efforts in Madison.
As a result of School Choice’s Wisconsin success story, the Legislature expanded school choice to Racine in 2011 (Racine Parental Choice Program or “RPCP”), and statewide in 2013 (Wisconsin Parental Choice Program or “WPCP”). The Legislature also created the Special Needs Scholarship Program (“SNSP”) in 2015 to provide more options to families with children who have disabilities. In addition, in 1993, Wisconsin created the independent charter school program that is equally successful and popular with over 10,000 students enrolled in independent charter schools last year.