The Supreme Court Is Poised to Make Critical Decisions in School “Culture War”

The cultural conflict over education is growing. The last days of the close-knit and highly partisan educational system are ending. Virginia governor’s race fixated on some parents’ opposition to education about racism. We have seen. physical violenceAt school board meetings, there was much discussion about everything from school mascots to masks. One of the biggest disputes is taking place at the highest level: The Supreme Court.

At an oral argument in December, the justices asked striking political questions: Does the government have to fund schools that “don’t want to have gay students” or gay teachers? What about schools that teach that “the man is the boss of the woman”? And “Would you say the same thing about a school that teaches critical race theory?”

These are the stakes of Carson v. MakinSupreme Court. Technically, the case has a narrow scope: a state tuition assistance program that excludes religiously “sectarian” schools. Conservative legal organizations have supported parents who want to send their children to Christian schools with government money. While the case is focused on religion, the justices recognized their decision’s far greater ramifications — for LGBTQ rights, gender discrimination and real talk about racism — during the oral argument in the case last month. Public opinion figured highly in the court’s debate over these ramifications, as the justices and legal advocates used words like “divisiveness” and “strife” dozens of times.

The oral argument revealed that the Supreme Court, which is a solidly conservative court, is skeptical about the exclusion from sectarian schools. There are many liberal commentatorsAlthough they have raised concerns about this rightward drift, they often forget an important fact. The justices, who are at the forefront in the national political fight for education, acknowledge that legal institutions can be influenced by popular pressure and social movements. The power of movements and public opinion set the battlefield for issues often grouped under the category of “culture war” — from masks and vaccines to anti-racist education to LGBTQ rights and gender equality — both in and out of court.

This vulnerability in politics is a powerful opportunity. The public will be attracted to youOur movements give us a better chance to win in court.

What does this mean for us as educators in the educational culture battle that is currently taking place at the high court? We can’t fall back on the elitist approach of decrying parents’ demands for more involvement in their kids’ education. That helped lose the Virginia governorship — “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach”Was, is, & always will be a loss message. We must support community controlAll essential institutions, including education. Conservative parents The wealthy and powerful back youAt school board meetings, they behave outrageously. But we must respond with people of our own power.

And we certainly shouldn’t rest our case, as some commentators have, on lawyer-splaining “the text of the First Amendment,” which prohibits “establishment of religion” by the government, to our opponents. The “textualist” approach to law, invented by right-wing judges and, unfortunately, often conceded toThey pretend that the law exists only in its explicit form, as opposed to their liberal colleagues. Accepting that, then we have to say goodbyeOur rights to privacy, marriage, gender equality, and abortion are protected by the Constitution. And when the law is ambiguous — what does “speech” mean in the First Amendment? — judges use textualism as a cover to apply their politics and call it the law’s “plain meaning.”These politics should be made public by social movements, so that the public can debate and decide.

CarsonIts ilk face dubious legal challenges from the religious right. We must defend LGBTQ and other rights against such encroachment. But we must not forget the importance and value of the First Amendment’s First Amendment, which allows for free exercise of religion. We should defend everyone’s right to an education and freedom to practice their religion, be free from others’ beliefs, or avoid religion entirely.

Democracies must find a way to balance religious freedom and the separation of church-state. Even liberal justices admit that there are some limitations. “play in the joints”These principles are not absolute. They note that the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause” would allow, for example, a state scholarship program to support religious degrees. The public, and not judges or lawyers, should decide if its tax money should be used to support such things, or tax exemptions. religious schoolsAnd other nonprofits.

The increasingly conservative Supreme Court struck its first blow in today’s school culture war five years ago, with the Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer decision on “a program to use recycled tires to resurface playgrounds.” Liberal justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer joined the 7-2 decision that Missouri could not exclude a religious preschool from that program, which the court downplayed as simply preventing “in all likelihood, a few extra scraped knees.” In dissent, however, justices Sonia Sotomayor and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that the case “is about nothing less than the relationship between religious institutions and the civil government — that is, between church and state.” Social movements largely missed this court decision, which was not a cultural flashpoint, and they are now playing catch-up as the court openly enters the educational culture war.

With some liberal support, conservative justices are redrawing battle lines to infringe on the separation between church and state, movements to LGBTQ and other rights, and religious groups with less power. “compete for public dollars.”To justify another decisionLast year, the Supreme Court supported Christian schools by citing its early 20th century precedent that allowed Native Americans’ treaty funds to be siphoned offFor Catholic mission schools. These justices do NOT concern religious freedom all over the board. power for the religious rightThey claim to be the true victim of the culture war.

Strong social movements can also redraw these battle lines. The 2020 Constitution was written by Neil Gorsuch, conservative justice. Bostock v. Clayton Countydecision that extended federal civil right in the workplace to gays and trans people. Gorsuch, a textualist who pretends to only see the words on paper, justifies this expansion of civil rights in part by noting that, “in our time, few pieces of federal legislation rank in significance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” And in dissent, even conservative justice Brett Kavanaugh had to “acknowledge the important victory achieved today”By the LGBTQ movement.

The Supreme Court is now asking whether government money should be used to support education about racism and schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students, teachers, or promote patriarchy. The justices are inviting politics into courtrooms, and our social movements have to respond. We need to win over the public and then use that public support for victory in court.