Although private church schools have historically received less attention than charter schools and other private nonsectarian schools in public discourse, in recent years, the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence has allowed private church schools to make great strides in achieving state funding. At a time where public education is facing criticism on all sides, it seems natural that school choice supporters are more vocal than ever. This Essay takes a closer look at private church schools and their relationship to white supremacy in anticipation of the Court’s decision in Carson ex rel. O.C. v. Makin. Ultimately, that case will decide whether states must fund students taking part in a state school-aid program who choose to use that aid at sectarian schools without violating the First Amendment. Situated within the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education and Massive Resistance, this project examines distinctions between segregation academies and private church schools. I will argue that while there is a distinction between church schools and segregation academies, such schools seem to share the same purpose of maintaining mostly white classrooms. By examining private church schools through two theoretical frameworks that underpin Critical Race Theory: racial realism and strategic racism, I argue that unlike other private schools, church schools are uniquely situated to preserve white supremacy given their explicit constitutional protection under the First Amendment—a protection that the current Supreme Court will likely strengthen in Carson.
American Studies Ph.D. student, College of William & Mary. J.D., William & Mary Law School, 2018; B.S. Political Science, Lee University, 2015. I would like to thank Professors Jamel Donnor and Allison Orr Larsen for their insight and advice during the preparing of this Essay.
Copyright 2022 by Vania Blaiklock
Cite as: Vania Blaiklock, The Unintended Consequences of the Court’s Religious Freedom Revolution: A History of White Supremacy and Private Christian Church Schools, 117 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 46 (2022), https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1324&context=nulr_online.