Written by J. Bennett Guess
January - February 2002
The United Church of Christ's Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) has agreed to join in the filing of an amicus (friend of the court) brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of those alleging that the Cleveland school vouchers program is unconstitutional.
JWM will offer its support for the legal brief being drafted by the American Jewish Committee.
The case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this spring, on appeal from the Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Dayton, Ohio. Other national religious bodies are expected to sign on to the brief as well.
In April 2001, the JWM board of directors reaffirmed the historic policies of the UCC supporting public investment in traditionally underfunded public schools and opposed the removal of funds from these schools for vouchers for private and parochial schools.
General Synod 23, meeting last July in Kansas City, Mo., approved a resolution calling upon UCC members and congregations to work to safeguard public education as a "basic and fundamental civil right."
Jan Resseger, the UCC's minister for public education and witness, says the high court's decision on Cleveland's vouchers program will have tremendous ramifications for public schools across the nation.
"The Cleveland vouchers program undermines the basic concept of common public education and severely undermines the capacity of public schools to meet the needs of poor children," she says.
Opponents of the Cleveland vouchers program maintain it violates the U.S. Constitution.
The Rev. J. Bennett Guess is communication and misson education minister for the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries.