Editor’s Note: Louis Grumet is former executive director of the New York State School Boards Association. In 1994, Grumet served as plaintiff in an important church-state case called Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Grumet and his co-author, John Caher, have just released a book about the legal challenge titled The Curious Case of Kiryas Joel: The Rise Of A Village Theocracy And The Battle To Defend The Separation Of Church And State (Chicago Review Press).
There are no theocracies in America, right? After all, we have constitutionally mandated separation of religion and government.
Perhaps not. A village in New York called Kiryas Joel appears to be going right up to the line – and perhaps lurching over it. An interesting case just filed in federal court will test the ability of a religious group to actually run an entire town.