Florida judge says vouchers violate state constitution
The Supreme Court may have ruled that there's no prohibition in the U.S. Constitution barring publicly funded vouchers for private and religious schools, but 47 state constitutions have "Blaine amendments" that explicitly ban funds for religious schools. There have been some recent victories over these Blaine amendments—see the recent Washington state case on state education scholarships—but for the most part they are the biggest obstacle to widespread use of school vouchers.
Yesterday, Florida Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey ruled that the state's voucher program violated the state's constitution, which reads, "No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution."
"While this court recognizes and empathizes with the … purpose of this legislation—to enhance the educational opportunity of children caught in the snare of substandard schools—such a purpose does not grant this court authority to abandon the clear mandate of the people as enunciated in the constitution," Davey wrote. "The language is clear and unambiguous. 'There is scant room for interpretation or parsing."
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who called the 1999 voucher law one of his proudest achievements in office, says the state will appeal the decision. "Today's ruling puts in jeopardy the education of hundreds of children in Florida," he said. "It is my hope that those children will be able to continue to attend the schools their parents have chosen. … It's not fair to the parents who make these decisions. They think it's the best choice for their children, and then to have that yanked out." About 9,000 students were eligible to use the vouchers this school year, which begins next Tuesday—659 of the students' parents had applied for the vouchers.
Meanwhile, reports the Associated Press, as many as 20 state legislatures are considering voucher bills this term. "I think it's unlikely that there's going to be some revolutionary, overnight change, but I see definite momentum in the direction of greater choice," says the pro-voucher Institute for Justice lawyer Clark Neily.
Father can't halt abortion, court says:
- Man loses court attempt to halt abortion by ex-girlfriend | A judge lifted an injunction. The ex-boyfriend will appeal (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Ex-boyfriend loses bid to halt an abortion | A Pennsylvania judge allowed a woman on Monday to end her pregnancy after a week's delay during which he had considered her ex-boyfriend's objections (The New York Times)
- Judge lifts injunction on abortion, dismisses lawsuit (The Washington Times)
- Judge: Pa. woman can have abortion (Associated Press)
- Earlier: Man wins injunction on woman's abortion | A judge has barred a woman temporarily from aborting her pregnancy, prompting protest from pro-choice groups and applause from pro-life advocates and fathers' rights organizations (The Washington Times)
Bush signs Born Alive Infants Protection Act:
- President signs bill on abortion procedures | Move on Pa. visit reopens debate (The Washington Post)
- Bush signs bill to protect rights of all infants born alive (The Washington Times)
- Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2001 (Bill info)
Stem cell research:
- Stem cell research not yet booming | Some scientists blame political controversy (The Washington Post)
- Stem cells slow progress | One year later: Was Bush's stem-cell compromise empty? (Newsweek)
- Australia's Prime Minister, lead researcher clash in fetus row | John Howard has declared that his proposed laws on embryonic research do not involve the use of material from aborted human fetuses, putting him at odds with Australia's leading proponent of stem-cell research for the second time in five days (The Australian)
- Earlier: Abortions set to fuel stem cell research | Tissue from aborted human fetuses will be used in the culture of embryonic stem cells for the first time in Australia if the creation of new stem-cell lines is approved, the country's leading scientist in the field has revealed (The Sydney Morning Herald)
More life ethics:
- Abortion issue turns congressional race ugly | In the national fight for control of Congress, the Upton-Shugars race means nothing. Still, the contest is important for what it says about the importance of the abortion issue in southwest Michigan, known as the state's Bible Belt, and the influence of evangelical Christians on the election process. (The Detroit News)
- War resisters: 'We won't go' to 'We won't pay' | You could hardly find a more problematic time for pacifists who do not want their taxes spent on the military (The New York Times)
Pakistan church attack:
- Martyred in silence | The killing yesterday of six people at a Christian school in Pakistan is a reminder of the acute difficulties faced by Christian minorities in many parts of the Islamic world (Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Pakistan school ponders its future | School's director says attackers had planned to do a lot more (Associated Press)
- Pakistan condemns 'cowardly' attack | Government says attack is retaliation for antiterrorism measures (BBC)
- In pictures: Pakistan school attack (BBC)
- Aussies caught in shooting horror | Witness says gunmen tried to force their way into hospital building where children were (AAP)
- Australia says Pakistan school attack was a deliberate strike against foreigners | Country calls for nationals to leave (Associated Press)
- Gunmen kill 6 at a Christian school in Pakistan | Four men shot their way into a boarding school for the children of Christian missionaries on Monday, gunning down six Pakistanis (The New York Times)
- Scene of Christian school attack was once British resort to escape blistering heat | A history of Murree (Associated Press)
Anniversary of Hiroshima bombing:
- Shock Waves | From Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The invasion that never was (John Wilson, Books & Culture)
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