Friday, July 28, 2017

Trinity Lutheran Decision Does Not Apply to Neutral Ban on Funds to Private Schools

As reported by the Detroit Free Press, a Michigan state Court of Claims judge held this week that the U.S. Supreme Court's Trinity Lutheran decision is not a basis for lifting a preliminary injunction issued earlier this month barring payment of $2.5 million the legislature had allocated to private schools to cover the cost of complying with state mandates. That injunction was based on a Michigan state constitutional provision that bars public funds for "any private, denominational or other nonpublic, pre-elementary, elementary, or secondary school".  In Council of Organizations and Others for Education About Parochiaid v. State of Michigan, (MI Ct. Cl., July 25, 2017), the court said in part:
... the Court concludes at this juncture that the constitutional provision at issue in this case, Article 8, § 2 of the Michigan Constitution, can be understood as falling within the category of neutral and generally applicable laws, rather than n provision that singles out the religious for disfavored treatment....  [T]his Court is disinclined to extend the Trinity Lutheran decision to a case that plainly does not involve express discrimination.