The Supreme Court Should Take a Stand for Religious Charter Schools

Jan. 10 2023

The Supreme Court is expected to announce shortly whether it will hear the case of Peltier v. Charter Day School, in which a North Carolina mother of two sued the school her children attend over its policy of having different dress codes for boys and girls. In the view of a federal appeals court, charter schools, since they receive private funds, are public institutions and thus the dress code is impermissible. George Will hopes the Supreme Court will overturn the ruling. Doing so would make room for religious charter schools—including Jewish ones.

If opponents of expanded school choices would devote to improving public education half the ingenuity they invest in impeding competition from alternatives to the status quo, there would be less demand for alternatives. That demand would be strengthened by a Supreme Court decision that charter schools are not “state actors,” and hence can present pedagogical and cultural choices without being vulnerable to suffocating litigation.

Charters are so popular the public education establishment must attack them indirectly, by what [a dissenting appeals-court judge] calls “the slow strangulation of litigation.” Unless the Supreme Court rescues charters from the “state actor” designation, today’s argument that sex differences in dress codes violate “equal protection” will morph into attacks on single-sex charters, and bathroom or sports policies based on biological sex. Discussions of religion will provoke First Amendment establishment-clause challenges. Only the Supreme Court can protect charters from progressives who, ever eager to break all institutions to the saddle of government, pursue this aim while praising a predictable casualty of it, true diversity.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Education, Freedom of Religion, Supreme Court, U.S. Politics


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount