Maine cannot exclude religious schools from educational assistance programs

The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that Maine cannot exclude religious schools from an educational assistance program that allows parents to use vouchers to send their children to public or private schools. and bringing more religion into public life, a trend reinforced by the addition of three candidates for former President Donald Trump. “Maine’s ‘non-sectarian’ requirement for generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote to a majority. “Regardless of how the benefits and limitations are described, the program works to identify and exclude schools that are otherwise eligible on the basis of their religious practice.” Roberts was joined by judges Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Connie Barrett. The three liberal justices defected, a loss for critics who say the decision would amount to further erosion of the separation of church and state. Although only one state, Vermont, has a similar program, the court’s ruling could inspire other states to pass similar programs. Speaking about the focus on the “government’s impartiality” in opposing Justice Stephen Breyer, Roberts wrote that “there is nothing impartial about the Maine program. The state pays tuition fees to certain students in private schools — as long as they are not religious,” Roberts said. against religion.” to the principles of free practice that govern any such public benefit program—including the prohibition of rejecting the benefit on the basis of the recipient’s religious practice.” Breyer, with Justice Elena Kagan and in part Justice Sonia Sotomayor, argued that a majority ruling would invite further societal strife. On religion.

The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that Maine cannot exclude religious schools from an educational assistance program that allows parents to use vouchers to send their children to public or private schools.

The 6-3 ruling is the latest move by the conservative court to expand religious freedom rights and bring more religion into public life, a trend reinforced by the addition of three candidates for former President Donald Trump.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote to the majority: “Maine’s ‘non-denominational’ requirement for generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.” “Regardless of how the benefits and limitations are described, the program works to identify and exclude schools that are otherwise eligible on the basis of their religious practice.”

Roberts was joined by judges Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Connie Barrett. The three liberal justices defected.

It is a loss for critics who say the decision would further erode the separation of church and state. Although only one state, Vermont, has a similar program, the court’s ruling could inspire other states to pass similar programs.

Addressing the assertion of “government neutrality” in an opponent of Justice Stephen Breyer, Roberts wrote that “there is nothing impartial about the Maine programme.”

“The state pays tuition fees for some students in private schools – as long as they are not religious,” he said.

“This is discrimination against religion,” Roberts said.

“Main’s administration of that benefit is subject to the Free Practice Principles that govern any such public benefit program—including the prohibition against refusal of a benefit based on a beneficiary’s religious practice.”

Breyer, with Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Sonia Sotomayor in part, argued that the majority ruling would invite more societal conflict over religion.

.