Public Christian schools? Leonard Leo’s allies advance a new cause

Public Christian schools? Leonard Leo’s allies advance a new cause

Politico reports:

Groups aligned with the conservative legal movement and its financial architect, Leonard Leo, are working to promote a publicly funded Christian school in Oklahoma, hoping to create a test case to change the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state.

At issue is the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma’s push to create the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, which would be the nation’s first religious school entirely funded by taxpayers. The school received preliminary approval from the state’s charter school board in June. If it survives legal challenges, it would open the door for state legislatures across the country to direct taxpayer funding to the creation of Christian or other sectarian schools.

Brett Farley, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, acknowledges that public funding of St. Isidore is at odds with over 150 years of Supreme Court decisions. He said the justices have misunderstood Thomas Jefferson’s intent when he said there should be a wall separating church and state, but that the current conservative-dominated court seems prepared to change course.

“Jefferson didn’t mean that the government shouldn’t be giving public benefits to religious communities toward a common goal,” he said. “The court rightly over the last decade or so has been saying, ‘No, look, we’ve got this wrong and we’re gonna right the ship here.’ ”

Behind the effort to change the law are Christian conservative groups and legal teams who, over the past decade, have been beneficiaries of the billion-dollar network of nonprofits largely built by Leo, the Federalist Society co-chairman. [Continue reading…]

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