Thursday, June 15, 2023

Maine Sued Over New Limits On Religious Schools In Tuition Payment Program

 On Tuesday, a Catholic school in Maine and parents who would like to send their children to that school under Maine's tuition payment program for students from districts without public high schools filed suit in a Maine federal district court challenging new restrictions which the Maine legislature imposed on schools participating in the tuition payment program. The complaint (full text) in St. Dominic Academy v. Makin, (D ME, filed 6/13/2023), contends that the legislature enacted the new provisions to exclude religious schools after the U.S. Supreme Court in Carson v. Makin invalidated a requirement that participating schools be nonsectarian. The complaint explains: 

Among other things, Maine:

• Imposed a new religious neutrality requirement on schools, stating that “to the extent that an educational institution permits religious expression, it cannot discriminate between religions in so doing”;

• Imposed a new religious nondiscrimination requirement on schools; and

Removed the religious exemption that had previously allowed religious (but “nonsectarian”) schools to handle sensitive issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in a way that reflected their faith commitments....

Becket issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.