On August 9, 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill amending the State's School Code, including the provisions related to the Textbook Block Grant Program, which governs State Board of Education-funded grants to public school districts and "State-recognized, non-public schools" for the purchase of selected textbooks. This amendment contains significant implications for parents, school administrators, and others operating within private and public school contexts, both in terms of the required instructional content and broader policy implications of government grant programs. Indeed, it raises the question of what risks come with accepting government grants and other government involvement in school education - now or later.
Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other religious houses of worship in Illinois are typically incorporated, and for good reason. Religious houses of worship may be incorporated in Illinois under two different statutes, and it is up to them to decide which one. Why does it matter?
Rounding out its current term, the U.S. Supreme Court recently issued two First Amendment rulings affecting the government’s intersection with private interests such as religion and freedom of expression. These rulings reflect the Court’s tensions on First Amendment issues, with a demonstrated willingness to abandon the long-questioned Lemon test for Establishment Clause religion cases as well as divergent views on when a private party becomes a “state actor” and therefore subject to First Amendment constraints. We address each decision in turn.