Analysis of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program in light of the First Amendment Establishment Clause Federal Supreme Court cases

John Joseph Peterburs, Marquette University

Abstract

This study provides an investigation of the amended "Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," Wis. Stat. S 119.23 (1995) in light of First Amendment Establishment Clause Federal Supreme Court decisions. The research sought to analyze the United States Supreme Court decisions related to separation of church and state. The study included an analysis of U.S. Supreme Court case history, recent U.S. Supreme Court cases, personal interviews with lead attorneys representing both sides of the current case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court challenging the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (1995) on State Constitutional grounds, as well as the writings of legal scholars. The research provides an assessment of litigation outcome as to whether the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (1995) would be found in violation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause to the United States Constitution. This study revealed that a challenge of the constitutionality of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (1995) on Federal First Amendment Establishment Clause grounds could be decided from either a "separationist" or "accommodationist" viewpoint. In the event a "separationist" point of view is applied, the program could be found in violation of the Establishment Clause on the basis of applying the "primary effects" test. On the other hand, if an "accommodationist" point of view is applied finding that state monies end up in the treasuries of religious schools as a result of the "neutral" independent choices of parents and students, the constitutionality of the program could be upheld.

Recommended Citation

Peterburs, John Joseph, "Analysis of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program in light of the First Amendment Establishment Clause Federal Supreme Court cases" (1998). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9901735.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9901735

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