School Choice Arguments in Court

Published August 1, 2000

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held oral arguments on the Cleveland school choice program in Cincinnati on June 20. Defending the program before the three-judge panel were Ohio Solicitor General Ned Foley, Institute for Justice litigation director Clint Bolick, and David Young from the Catholic Conference.

Objecting to the program was National Education Association counsel Robert Chanin, the target of many pointed questions from Judge James Ryan.

“Where is it written that a parent can’t take the money he’s allocated for the education of his child and spend it any way be wants?” asked Ryan. At another point, he asked whether it was the “reality” that Cleveland students enjoy an array of school choices.

“Yes, but it is a constitutionally inappropriate reality,” Chanin replied.

Edward B. Foley, a lawyer from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, argued that the voucher program meets constitutional muster because parents have a choice of both religious and secular private schools and also of state charter schools.

“The parents have complete choice, because they’re in the driver’s seat,” Foley said. “There is true choice here.”