Saturday, November 14, 2015

New Mexico Supreme Court Invalidates State Textbook Loans To Private School Students

In Moses v. Skandera, (NM Sup. Ct., Nov. 12, 2015), the New Mexico Supreme Court in a unanimous opinion upheld a state constitutional challenge to the New Mexico Instructional Material Law.  That statute allows the state to lend secular textbooks to private and parochial school students.  New Mexico's Constitution, Art. XII, Sec. 3 (a Blaine amendment provision) provides in part:
no ... funds appropriated, levied or collected for educational purposes, shall be used for the support of any sectarian, denominational or private school, college or university.
Reversing the state court of appeal (see prior posting), the state Supreme Court held that this constitutional provision is more restrictive that the state or federal Establishment Clause and bars textbook loans:
Private schools benefit because they do not have to buy instructional materials with money they obtain by tuition or donations and they can divert such money to other uses in their schools. Consistent with the rules of statutory construction and the majority of jurisdictions interpreting similar state constitutional provisions, the IML violates Article XII, Section 3 because it provides support to private schools
Albuquerque Journal reports on the decision.