It’s a victory in Maine with bigger implications for dismantling the educational hierarchy driving wokeness.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Tuesday that a Maine tuition assistance program violated the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause for excluding religious schools from eligibility.
The program provides tuition assistance for students without a local public school to attend private institutions – as long as the funding is not used for religious or “sectarian” teaching.
“Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s opinion in the case of Carson v. Maykin. “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.”
Roberts stated that with Maine providing the benefit of tuition assistance, they cannot condition those benefits in a way that “effectively penalizes the free exercise of religion.”
I’m not a big fan of this Supreme Court, but it’s been fairly decent on religious freedom. And this ruling has advocates of religious freedom cheering.
The First Liberty Institute, which filed the case and took it to the highest court, is happy.
“We are thrilled that the Court affirmed once again that religious discrimination will not be tolerated in this country. Parents in Maine, and all over the country, can now choose the best education for their kids without fearing retribution from the government,” CEO Kelly Shackelford said.
The Institute for Justice, which also fought the case in court, is also celebrating.
“Today’s decision makes clear, once and for all, that the government may not bar parents from selecting religious schools within educational choice programs, whether because of their religious affiliation or the religious instruction they provide,” Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Michael Bindas stated. “Parents have a constitutional right to choose such schools for their children, and the Court today held that a state cannot deny them that choice in programs that allow for other private options.”
The Coalition for Jewish Values issued a press release with Rabbi Yaakov Menken stating that, “The Maine law was obviously prejudicial against religiously-motivated parents, forcing them to choose between shouldering secular education costs entirely on their own or denying their children the opportunity to attend a religious school. As we said in our brief to the Supreme Court, this was “an obvious burden and disincentive for religious observance,” and we welcome the Court’s recognition that this was a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the Bill of Rights. Given the impact upon other forms of federal and state tuition assistance, parents and children nationwide will benefit from this important decision.”
Randi Weingarten however, one suspects, is a whole lot less happy.