The Attorney General's Lawyer: Inside the Meese Justice Department

By Douglas W. Kmiec | Go to book overview

principle against the establishment of an official religion or the coerced participation in religious activity would restore the intended coherence to this area of the law.

Bill Bennett's tuition voucher proposal, despite our constitutional clearance, never saw the light of legislative day. He made several efforts, but the stranglehold of the education unions could not be loosened. Whether greater parental choice through vouchers, or similar arrangements, will yet materialize is difficult to predict. The parental interest remains strong, and there have been some favorable state and local efforts. George Bush, however, seems to be of at least two minds. As an education advisor to his election campaign during the period of 1987 when I was back at Notre Dame, I know that the mere mention of Bill Bennett or vouchers would send Bush regulars scurrying for cover. President Bush seemed to candidly reveal similar feelings in response to a young boy's question during a White House visit in March 1989:

Q: Hello, Mr. President... I go to a private school,... [b]ut yet part of the taxes which [my parents] pay to the Federal Government go[es] to the public school system.... Should they get a tax break on that?

The President: No they shouldn't.... I have been intrigued with the concept of tuition tax credits [the equivalent of vouchers]. And some say, well, should that include parochial schools? And I've said yes, but the problem again is that we are--and that gets really to your philosophical underpinning of your question--we can't afford to do that. So I think that everybody should support the public school system. And then, if on top of that, your parents think that they want to shell out, in addition to the tax money, tuition money, that's their right,.... 118

This response distressed many of the President's usual supporters, including myself. Since then, President Bush's second Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, has outlined encouraging education reform proposals showing a reawakened sympathy for giving some federal education money directly to parents for allocation to public or private schools. That tip of the hat toward parental and family interests has generated the usual teachers' union opposition. It remains to be seen whether the primary role of parents in their children's educations will be acknowledged, and the dubious policy and constitutional objections to that reaffirmation of family discarded.


NOTES
1.
Major Policy Statements of the Attorney General: Edwin Meese III 1985-1988 176 ( 1989).
2.
President's Legislative and Administrative Message, 23 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 91 ( Jan. 25, 1988).

-106-

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The Attorney General's Lawyer: Inside the Meese Justice Department
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Note 3
  • Part I - Beginnings 5
  • 1 - Surmounting the Independent Counsel 7
  • Notes 16
  • 2 - In Search of Original Intent 17
  • 3 - The Unitary Executive 47
  • Notes 65
  • Part II - The Essence 69
  • 4 - Family: Abortion, Aids, Pornography, and School Choice 71
  • Notes 106
  • 5 - Work: Securing Economic Liberty 111
  • Notes 129
  • 6 - Neighborhood: The Revival of Federalism 132
  • 7 - Peace: The Color-Blind Society 152
  • Notes 175
  • 8 - Freedom: Iran-Contra and the Criminalization of the Separation of Powers 179
  • Notes 188
  • Part III - The Finale 191
  • 9 - Ethics, Give Us More Ethics 193
  • Notes 214
  • Epilogue 219
  • Notes 220
  • Selected Bibliography 221
  • Index 225
  • About the Author 235
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