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Argument: Vouchers comply with separation of church and state

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In a 2002 case before the US Supreme Court, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the court considered whether school vouchers constituted a violation of the United States Constitution's Establishment Clause, as many voucher programs would allow children receiving vouchers to attend church-run schools. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, writing for the majority, stated that "The incidental advancement of a religious mission, or the perceived endorsement of a religious message, is reasonably attributable to the individual aid recipients not the government, whose role ends with the disbursement of benefits." The Supreme Court ruled that the Ohio program did not violate the Establishment Clause, because it passed a five part test developed by the Court in this case, titled the Private Choice Test.


Richard Morgan. "Yes, Vouchers Are Constitutional". City Journal. Autumn 1998 - The phrase "separation of church and state" does not occur in the document (or in any of the 13 original state constitutions). The clause of the federal Constitution that is widely, but incorrectly, held to mandate "separation" is that part of Amendment One that forbids Congress to make any law "respecting an establishment of religion." The original proposal, introduced by James Madison, simply provided that a "national religion" not be "established." While the documentary record of the First Congress is too fragmentary to allow us to know precisely what the amendment's authors intended by the change they wrought in Madison's language, it is safe to say that the prohibition against laws "respecting an establishment of religion" embodied Madison's original aim (with which no one really disagreed) of forbidding Congress from establishing a national religion or granting any sect or denomination preferences that might tend in that direction.

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