Friday, June 26, 2020

Charter School May Not Exclude Vendor That Expresses Religious Views On Its Website

In Our Peculiar Family v. Inspire Charter Schools, (CD CA, June 23, 2020), a California federal district court refused to dismiss a free exercise challenge to the refusal by a publicly funded charter school to contract with an art instruction business because of the business' espousal of religious views on its website. The court said in part:
Defendants argue that their obligation to be “nonsectarian” in administering a school program required them to exclude any vendor that publicly espoused religious views.... Defendants are incorrect. Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 137 S. Ct. 2012 (2017)....
Defendants’ policies here are even more preclusive than the unconstitutional policies in Trinity Lutheran. Not only do Defendants’ policies exclude all churches from providing services, they apparently preclude all services by any potential vendor with religious statements on their website. Defendants do not explain how institution of such a categorical requirement is in keeping with their obligation to facilitate “nonsectarian” services, nor do they offer facts to support that Plaintiffs’ application implicated Establishment Clause concerns.