SCOTUS Ends State Discrimination Against Religious Schools

The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck a major blow against institutionalized discrimination against religious schools. Defying leftists who would deny equal access to state education funds based on religion, a 6-3 vote along ideological lines effectively ends the decades-long practice.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said Maine cannot disperse benefits through a procedure that “effectively penalizes the free exercise of religion.” Roberts noted the schools would otherwise be eligible for the program but are shoved aside for religious reasons.

The historic ruling in Carson v. Maykin almost completely wipes out laws in 37 states prohibiting the direct or indirect use of state funds for religious schools.

For a century and a half, Maine has implemented a town tuitioning program to deal with areas that have no local public high school. That is fully half of the state’s school districts. State lawmakers contract with the nearest high schools to take out-of-district students at an annual average of $11,000.

Nearly the same amount is paid for students to attend 11 non-religious private schools in the state.

However, for the past 40 years, Maine has discriminated against faith-based schools in spreading tuition funds.

A pair of Christian families challenged the Maine practice of denying equal access to tuition assistance based on religious belief. The Supreme Court decision is a major victory for those families and potentially millions more who do not want religious factors to block them from their school of choice.

The Constitution, as a cursory glance shows, makes zero mention of “separation of church and state.” That comes from a paraphrased comment by Thomas Jefferson over a decade after the Constitution was signed.

Rather, Congress or the states may not establish an official church or “respect” such an establishment. Further, free religious exercise may not be encumbered by government actions.

Even better for religious freedom advocates, the high court ruled Tuesday that excluding faith-based educational institutions runs afoul of the Constitution’s free-exercise clause.

Dissenting liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused the majority of “upending constitutional doctrine.” She said states in many circumstances will be required to “subsidize religious doctrine with taxpayer dollars.”

Tuesday’s ruling continues the court’s shift away from restrictions on educational aid based on religious reasons. Neither “wall of separation” or “separation of church as state” are constitutional doctrine. Rather, they are merely liberal theology to justify discrimination against the faithful.