Editor’s Note: Louis Grumet is former executive director of the New York State School Boards Association. In 1994, Grumet served as plaintiff in an important church-state case called Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Grumet and his co-author, John Caher, have just released a book about the legal challenge titled The Curious Case of Kiryas Joel: The Rise Of A Village Theocracy And The Battle To Defend The Separation Of Church And State (Chicago Review Press).
Religion-based discrimination takes many forms in modern America. Often it looks like a county clerk who won’t give a marriage license to a same-sex couple. Other times, it looks like three Muslims and one Sikh getting booted from a flight because they allegedly made passengers and crew “uneasy.”
A New York farm that hosts wedding ceremonies for profit does not have a “religious freedom” right to discriminate against same-sex couples, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has announced that he intends to push a tax-credit program that would subsidize tuition at private schools. Under the proposed scheme, taxpayers would receive a cut by donating directly to private school scholarship funds.
The measure has been criticized as a neo-voucher program. Cuomo has been campaigning for it in synagogues and churches, and leaders of the Catholic Church have indicated support for the scheme.
What does rent control in New York City have to do with tax credits that would be used to support religious schools? Quite a bit, at least as far as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is concerned.
In a move that can best be described as desperate, Cuomo initially tied together a piece of legislation that would renew expiring rent control laws with the creation of a new tuition tax credit program.
For years, a New York community’s public school system has been drained of resources by school board members who are more interested in assisting sectarian institutions than in improving public education. But thanks to complaints from angry residents, the state has finally assigned a financial monitor to oversee the board’s activities.
A prominent Jewish group called the Orthodox Union (OU) has announced at its annual conference that it will lobby the state of New York to increase public funding for Jewish day schools and yeshivot – even though this raises some serious constitutional concerns.
A New York community provides a frightening example of what can happen when sectarian interests that don’t really care about public education gain control of taxpayer-funded schools that are meant to serve all.
The controversy centers on the East Ramapo Central School District in Rockland County. The area is home to a large concentration of Orthodox Jews, and they dominate the local school board. Seven of the board's nine members are Orthodox men.
It’s that time of year when people are compiling lists. So let’s look at the Top Ten Church-State Stories of 2013.
1. Greece, N.Y., prayer case argued before U.S. Supreme Court: An Americans United-sponsored lawsuit challenging legislative prayer in the city of Greece, N.Y., reached the Supreme Court.