Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Court Enters Settlement Order In Dispute Over State Funding To Religious Child-Care Facility

In Pedreira v. Sunrise Children's Services, Inc., (WD KY, June 30, 2014), a Kentucky federal district court entered an order incorporating terms of a settlement between the parties in an Establishment Clause lawsuit, and retained jurisdiction to enforce the order. At issue was the long-running controversy over the state of Kentucky's funding treatment for abused and neglected children in facilities operated by Sunrise Children's Services, a Baptist organization. The settlement requires the state to modify its contracts with child care agencies so that the religious affiliation or non-affiliation of children is respected. (See prior related posting.) The court rejected challenges by Sunrise to the settlement:
Sunrise urges that the Agreement will subject it to a “Hobson’s Choice” – That is, it will have to choose either to accept terms in new PCC agreements which it finds objectionable, or forego contracts with the Commonwealth which provide essential funding for its continued operation. As aptly stated by the Commonwealth defendants however, this is not a “Hobson’s Choice;” it is a business choice....  Sunrise does not suggest that the Commonwealth does not have the right to add to or alter the terms of its future PCC contract offerings, with or without this settlement.
Americans United issued a press release announcing the court's action. AP reports on the decision.