Federal appeals court: Cleveland vouchers are unconstitutional The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that Cleveland's school vouchers program "constitutes an impermissible infringement under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment." Of the 56 private schools that receive voucher money from the city, 46 have some religious affiliation. "This scheme involves the grant of state aid directly and predominantly to the coffers of the private, religious schools, and it is unquestioned that these institutions incorporate religious concepts, motives, and themes into all facets of their educational planning," wrote Judge Eric L. Clay. "There is no neutral aid when that aid principally flows to religious institutions; nor is there truly 'private choice' when the available choices resulting from the program design are predominantly religious. ... The Ohio scholarship program is designed in a manner calculated to attract religious institutions." Judge James L. Ryan wrote vehement dissent, saying reasoning in the majority opinion "is rooted in nativist bigotry and ... has been explicitly rejected by the Supreme Court as a legitimate determinant of whether a government is engaging in religious indoctrination." The majority responded by calling Ryan's dissent "hyperbole" and "gratuitous insults." It is expected that Cleveland's 3,886 children whose families receive tuition vouchers of up to $2,500 will be able to finish the school year. The case seems likely to be kicked upstairs. "So far, the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed out of the fray—declining to review a Milwaukee program or a voucher fight from Maine," reports the Associated Press. "But both sides of the debate believe the Cleveland case is ripe enough ...

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