ADL Urges Court to Hear Potential Landmark Vouchers Case
New York, NY, October 1, 1998.... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has filed an amicus
brief urging the United States Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a Wisconsin decision in Jackson
v. Benson which upheld the constitutionality of a state school voucher program. The
publicly-funded initiative provides parents with tuition vouchers that are redeemable at
private schools, including sectarian and religious institutions.
"This case has the potential to further erode the First Amendment or to make it
clear that this nation is centered on the firm principle of separation of church and
state," noted Howard P. Berkowitz, ADL National Chairman. "The Constitution
prohibits the government from using state funds to promote religious indoctrination. We
hope the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to reaffirm this fundamental tenet of
American democracy," Mr. Berkowitz said.
The League's brief includes the following arguments:
The principles embodied in the Establishment Clause
cannot and should not be
compromised, notwithstanding the difficult problems state and local governments admittedly
must confront regarding the state of public education in our urban communities.
The proponents of the Milwaukee voucher experiment ignore not only the special status
public schools have as shapers of values, ideas and knowledge which are central to the
notion of community and the ability to exercise fundamental constitutional rights, but
almost a half a century of jurisprudence recognizing this critical link between public
education and the common good of our democracy.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.