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Flunking DemocracySchools, Courts, and Civic Participation$
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Michael A. Rebell

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226549781

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226549958.001.0001

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Civic Participation and the Federal Courts

Civic Participation and the Federal Courts

(p.34) Chapter Two Civic Participation and the Federal Courts
Flunking Democracy

Michael A. Rebell

University of Chicago Press

Historically the U.S. Supreme Court has emphasized the role that schools should play in preparing their students to be capable citizens. The chapter focuses on the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1925 ruling in Pierce v. Society of Sisters that the state has the right to insist that all schools, including private schools, teach “studies plainly essential to good citizenship.” It also examines the implications of the Court’s 1973 holding in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez. There, the Supreme Court held that education is not a”fundamental interest” under the federal constitution, but at the same time, the justices agreed that education is essential for the effective exercise of free speech under the First Amendment and to the intelligent exercise of the right to vote under the Fifteenth Amendment. The Court declined to order the school-funding equity improvements sought by the plaintiffs in that case, but it indicated that it might reconsider in a future case whether there is a fundamental interest under the U.S. Constitution to ensure that all students receive the level of education necessary for them to function as capable citizens.

Keywords:   Pierce v. Society of Sisters, Rodriguez v. San Antonio, Horace Mann, Pierce compromise, Wisconsin v. Yoder, private schools

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