Thursday, May 13, 2021

Court Wil Not Enjoin South Carolina "No Aid" Clause

In Bishop of Charleston v. Adams, (D SC, May 11, 2021), a South Carolina federal district court refused to grant a preliminary injunction in a suit challenging the constitutionality of the "no aid" clause in South Carolina's Constitution. That clause bars the use of public funds to benefit any religious or other private educational institution. Plaintiffs, which include a diocese representing 33 Catholic schools, sought access to federal CARES Act funds that had been directed to South Carolina. The court distinguished this case from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Espinoza v. Montana Dep’t of Revenue which struck down Montana's "no aid" clause.  The court said in part:

[T]he Supreme Court struck down Montana’s no-aid provision precisely because it discriminated against religious schools but not other private schools, creating an implicit contrast with no-aid provisions like South Carolina’s that encompass both religious and private non-religious schools. Unlike the provision at issue in Espinoza, South Carolina’s no-aid provision prohibits the use of public funds for the direct benefit of religious and non-religious private schools alike. In other words, South Carolina’s provision discriminates along the private/public divide, not the religious/non-religious divide.