Why the Supreme Court Changed Its Mind About Government Aid to Religious Institutions: It's a Lot More than Just Republican Appointments
Government aid to religious schools can be governed by either of two principles: no aid to religion, or no discrimination among schools. No aid dominated in the 1970s because of lingering anti-Catholicism, the perception that school aid was just a Catholic issue, and fear of undermining desegregation of public schools. No discrimination came to dominate after 1985 because both anti-Catholicism and the desegregation effort faded away; evangelicals and black parents switched sides; and free marketers joined in to make a broad coalition for aid to private schools. These changes reframed the issue as one of individual choice for many Americans, bringing the no-discrimination principle to the fore and pushing the no-aid principle to the background. This article briefly reviews the social changes that set up the doctrinal change.