U.S. SUPREME COURT RULES 6-3 IN FAVOR OF PARENTS AND RELIGIOUS CHOICE
Chief Justice Roberts writes majority opinion in Maine case reinforcing a parent’s freedom to direct the education of their children
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a victory for students across the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court just validated parents’ constitutionally-protected right to direct the education of their children.
The 6-3 decision in Carson v Makin reads in part that “once a state decides to subsidize private education it cannot disqualify some private schools because they are religious.” Maine created a tuition assistance program so that students living in communities without state-run public schools would have options, but they limited those options to secular schools. The case was brought by three families who filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that the “nonsectarian” requirement violates the Constitution. Today the High Court agreed.
The decision reaffirms the Court’s findings in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that “a benefit program under which private citizens ‘direct government aid to religious schools wholly as a result of their own genuine and independent private choice’ does not offend the Establishment Clause.”
Former Solicitor General and counsel to CER Paul Clement said that, “The decision certainly creates further momentum in the direction that any statute that limits relief to non-sectarian schools is in trouble and… reaffirms what was already clear from Espinoza.” Clement’s legal guidance to states in “Making the Most of Espinoza to Advance Education Opportunity,” is a seminal publication for state lawmakers wanting to remove the last vestiges of discrimination caused by “Blaine” amendments. In the coming days, CER will be monitoring further expert review of the decision and sharing with states how they can act to allow parents to fully choose the education that best meets their children’s needs.
For more information on the constitutionality of education choice and court decisions striking down Blaine Amendments, visit CER’s Blaine microsite.