the Supreme Court will explore whether states that provide money to parents for their children’s high school tuition can exclude religious institutions.
The court has been especially sensitive to charges of religious discrimination in recent years. It declared last year that when states make tuition money widely available, they cannot exclude religiously affiliated schools.
Some justices questioned whether there was a substantial distinction between discrimination based on a school’s religious status and discrimination based on a school’s use of government funds to teach religion in that case, which involved a school program in Montana. The judgement said, “We appreciate the argument but do not need to analyze it here.” Now, the Supreme Court has agreed to consider that matter in a case from Maine, which asks the justices to go a step further and rule that schools cannot be excluded even if they provide religious instruction. Families who live in locations without public high schools can utilize tuition money to pay for their children’s enrollment at public or private schools in other communities.
However, schools cannot be sectarian, as defined by the state as institutions that promote a certain faith or belief system and teach subjects “through the prism of that faith.”
Two sets of parents filed a lawsuit, alleging that the program infringes on their religious liberty.
Because David and Amy Carson sent their daughter to Bangor Christian School, they were not eligible for state funding. “In News interview, Amy Carson stated, “I want to consider it as a continuation of the principles and the manner that we raised her at the house.” “The school’s principles are in line with what we believe at home.””
Troy and Angela Nelson take their children to a nonsectarian school, but they want them to attend Temple Academy, whose mission is to “know the Lord Jesus Christ and to make Him known via approved academic achievement and programs delivered through our totally Christian Biblical world view.”
In court documents, the families’ lawyer, Michael Bindas of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, said that there is no legal distinction between a school’s status and how it spends tuition money.