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VMI on the Dole


VMI is back in the news. Two cadets, with the assistance of the ACLU, are asking the school to terminate religious prayers before supper in the VMI mess hall. VMI superintendent Josiah Bunting III has responded by saying that he is ready for a court fight, proclaiming that “the Constitution does not prohibit our saying grace before supper.” But Bunting misses three important points: (1) The Constitution does prohibit state institutions from forcing people to participate in religious prayer; (2) VMI, by its own choice, is a state-supported institution; and (3) VMI requires its freshmen and sophomores to eat supper every night in the mess hall and to stand up for the prayer. Five years ago, VMI had the opportunity to get off the state dole and go totally private, but chose instead to remain on the state welfare rolls. At that time, the Justice Department was ordering VMI to accept women into the school, and VMI resisted the order, making basically the same argument as it is now making — that the Constitution enabled it to choose its own students. But VMI was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. There is only one sound approach for an institution that prides itself on instilling a sense of independence among its cadets: Get totally off the state welfare rolls and go totally private, which would mean relying totally on voluntary donations and enrollment fees. This would enable the school to set whatever rules it wants, independent of government control. Most important, an institution that teaches its cadets that it’s morally wrong to take what rightfully belongs to others has no business engaging in that same practice through the political process. For the complete Washington Times story, see: http://www.washingtontimes.com/metro/default-200144221359.htm

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.