The Constitution and New York’s Efforts to Control the Yeshivas

Sept. 28 2022

Earlier this month, the New York State Board of Regents approved a set of amendments to the educational requirements for private schools—written primarily with ḥasidic schools in mind. Michael A. Helfand considers the constitutional limits on the state’s ability to govern what happens in religious educational institutions:

New York’s rule requiring private schools to provide “instruction in mathematics, science, English language arts, and social studies that is substantially equivalent to such instruction required to be provided in public schools” is likely to withstand constitutional challenge even if that challenge is grounded in a combination of parental- and religious-liberty rights. And that’s because it will almost certainly be viewed as necessary to ensure students become full and productive members of a democratic society. Thus, while the Supreme Court has been sympathetic to religious-liberty claims in recent years, the need to provide citizens with educational basics is sufficiently weighty that it will likely overcome constitutional challenge.

At the same time, some of New York’s rules veer beyond these core objectives. For example, New York’s education law requires students to study “patriotism, citizenship, and human-rights issues,” including “the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, . . . the Holocaust, and the mass starvation in Ireland from 1845 to 1850.” This sort of very particular curricular list, while undeniably providing important educational lessons, is far more vulnerable to constitutional challenge because it is less connected to the essential skills that typically justify limitations on parents’ 14th Amendment rights.

Maybe there’s a lesson in all of that. To the extent government officials impose only core educational requirements, they stand on strong constitutional footing. . . . But if government gets carried away, and moves beyond what is essential to that goal, its authority wanes—and the strength of potential constitutional challenges grows.

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Read more at JTA

More about: Hasidim, Jewish education, Religious Freedom, U.S. Constitution

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship