The Supreme Court this week ruled in favor of religious choice for parents with no other school options in the state of Maine.
The State of Maine agreed to subsidize the private education of its citizens due to a lack of access to public schools in certain areas of its rural environment. However, since 1981, the state decided that private schools they subsidize through the program could not be religious in nature. The Supreme Court this week ruled otherwise. The Court ruled in a 6-3 majority in the case Carson v. Makin (06/21/2022) that it is unconstitutional for the State of Maine to exclude religious schools from funding.
Chief Justice Roberts in his brief explained that normally a state wouldn’t be required to fund private and/or religious education. However, once the state decides it will subsidize education (due to lack of public school access) the state may not disqualify schools because they are religious in nature.
“Maine’s “nonsectarian” requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”
As you know the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Roberts continued, “Regardless of how the benefit and restriction are described, the program operates to identify and exclude otherwise eligible schools on the basis of their religious exercise. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. It is so ordered.”
The case provides relief to families who want to send their children to a religious school and releases funding for these families to enjoy the same benefits as other citizens without access to public schools in Maine.