Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Christain School Sues Over "Poison Pill" Provisions That Exclude It from Maine's Tuition Payment Program

Suit was filed this week in a Maine federal district court by a Christian school challenging 2021 amendments to Maine's Human Rights Act that operate to exclude the school from participating in Maine's tuition payment program for students from districts without public high schools.  The motion for a preliminary injunction (full text) which was filed along with the complaint in Crosspoint Church v. Makin, (D ME, filed 3/27/2023), focuses on provisions in 5 MRSA §4602 that now require schools that participate in the tuition reimbursement program to comply with the sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination provisions. Religious schools that do not receive public funding are exempt from that provision. The law also now provides that "to the extent that an educational institution permits religious expression, it cannot discriminate between religions in so doing." Plaintiff characterizes these provisions as "poison pills" that prevent it from participating in the tuition payment program without violating its religious beliefs after the U.S. Supreme Court in Carson v. Makin upheld the right of sectarian schools to participate. Plaintiff seeks a preliminary injunction based on violations of the Free Exercise, Free Speech and Establishment Clauses. Washington Times reports on the lawsuit.