Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal


Several urban archdioceses across the U.S. have closed their Catholic schools and subsequently permitted charter schools to open in their places. This Article describes the possible church-state entanglement issues that arise at schools like these. We reviewed eighty-five relevant cases and found only seven cases involving existing or proposed religiously affiliated charter schools. While generalizations are difficult to draw from this small sample, trends and inferences inform the emerging research. Five of the cases arose when schools were connected with a particular religious organization, such as a church. The lawsuits alleged both explicit and implicit religious entanglement. Our analysis also found that the charter schools affiliated with Christianity typically prevailed; whereas, those affiliated with non-Christian religions were less successful. Additionally, we identified eleven cases that did not involve specific schools, but involved allegations about funding allocated to school choice programs such as charter schools and voucher programs. In each of these cases, courts held that funding did not offend the Establishment Clause. Based on our analysis, we speculate why more cases against religiously affiliated charter schools did not exist, predict that more lawsuits are probable, and provide recommendations to prevent future litigation involving religiously affiliated charter schools.


© 2015 Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal