Thursday, August 23, 2018

Suit Challenges Exclusion of Sectarian Schools From Maine's High School Tuition Program

In Maine, small school districts that do not operate their own high schools or contract with a specific school for educational purposes, pay tuition for residents to attend a high school elsewhere in the state.  However state law bars paying tuition for students to attend sectarian schools.  On Monday a suit was filed challenging that exclusion.  The complaint (full text) in Carson v. Hasson, (D ME, filed 8/21/2018), alleges that this exclusion violates the 1st and 14th Amendments.  In a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit, First Liberty described the claims:
By singling out religious schools, and religious schools only, for discrimination, Maine violates the religious freedom and equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. As the U.S. Supreme Court’s Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a 7-2 majority in last year’s Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer decision, excluding a church “from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution…and cannot stand.” Armed with this recent decision, IJ and FLI’s clients intend to vindicate the principle that government programs cannot discriminate against religion.