U.S. Supreme Court to hear case over tuition assistance for religious schools – JURIST – News
the Supreme Court of the United States decided on Friday to hear a case brought by two families in Maine who want to use a state schooling program to send their children to Christian schools.
Families who reside in towns in Maine that do not have public schools are allowed to use the Tuition Assistance Program to pay for a non-denominational public or private school of the family’s choice. But the tuition assistance program does not allow taxpayer money to be used for religious education.
The two families are attractive a lower court ruling in favor of the state, holding that the exclusion of religious schools from the tuition assistance program does not violate the right to the free exercise of religion.
Families want to use the Tuition Assistance Program to send their children to private, nonprofit schools that seek to instill a “biblical worldview” in students. One, Bangor Christian School, can expel gay or transgender students, and the other, Temple Academy, will potentially not accept gay, transgender, or non-Christian students. Neither school hires gay teachers.
The Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, represents families. Michael Bindas, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, argued that “By eliminating religion – and religion only – for exclusion from its tuition assistance program, Maine violates the US Constitution” .
Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey said Maine would defend the lawsuit, explaining that “parents are free to send their children to [religious] schools if they wish, but not with public funds. Frey further believed that education religious schools “Providing does not equate to public education”.
The Supreme Court’s decision has the potential to build on rulings of recent years authorizing the use of public funds for religious institutions.