Zelman v. Simmons-Harris
Charles J. Russo
In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), a bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld the voucher part of the Ohio Pilot Project Scholarship Program (OPPSP) under which qualified poor students can attend private schools, including ones that are religiously affiliated, at public expense. In so doing, the Court granted poor inner-city parents the opportunity to send their children to the schools of their choice. Zelman traces its origins to 1992 when Governor George Voinovich asked a panel of experts to investigate whether a voucher program could be implemented in Ohio. In March 1995 the Ohio General Assembly adopted the OPPSP in response to a federal trial court order requiring judicial supervision and management of the Cleveland school district by the state superintendent of public instruction. The primary goal of the statute was “to provide for a number of students … to receive scholarships to attend alternative schools, and for an equal number ...