Paul L. Caron

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Pepperdine Religious Liberty Clinic Amicus Brief In Supreme Court Charter School Case Quoted in Wall Street Journal

Pepperdine Caruso Law’s Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation Religious Liberty Clinic amicus brief to the Supreme Court in Charter Day School v. Peltier, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, A Federal Court Ruling Imperils the Charter-School Movement

A ruling in a federal court case could spell trouble for the charter-school movement. The case began in 2015 when the American Civil Liberties Union, representing three female students, sued our school.

The plaintiffs in Peltier v. Charter Day School, Inc. allege that our uniform policy—which requires girls to wear jumpers, skirts or “skorts” (skirtlike shorts) on most days—violates the girls’ rights under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. After a mixed decision in federal district court, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June for the plaintiffs.

By a 10-6 vote, the full court held that CDS is a “state actor,” constitutionally indistinguishable from government-run public schools. ... Because it lacks meaningful limiting principles, the Fourth Circuit opinion, if allowed to stand, could be applied to charter schools elsewhere, threatening their autonomy, subjecting them to the same rules, regulations and political machinations that have crippled government-run school systems. It would leave many low-income parents and students with no option other than poorly performing district schools.

Charter Day School Inc. has petitioned the Supreme Court to review the decision. Lawyers for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, Va.—which is under the Fourth Circuit’s jurisdiction—argue in a friend-of-the-court brief that the Fourth Circuit’s “overbroad approach” could also threaten religious social-service providers that contract with states. “A Jewish adoption service could be named the defendant in a 14th Amendment action,” they write. “A Christian relief ministry could face a Title VII suit without the shield of the statute’s religious exemption. Or a Muslim vocational program could meet with an Establishment Clause challenge.”

The Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Clinic, the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty and the Religious Freedom Institute’s Islam and Freedom Action Team raise similar concerns in a separate brief.

According to these experts, the Fourth Circuit’s ruling would undercut charter schools and the very foundation of America’s private, voluntary sector. Perhaps that’s what the ACLU and its allies had in mind all along.

Editor's Note:  If you would like to receive a weekly email each Sunday with links to the faith posts on TaxProf Blog, email me here.

Faith, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink