Big News on School Choice Front: A New Supreme Court Case
To our delight, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review another school choice case, this one involving Maine’s school choice program. We wrote about the case, Carson v. Makin, in a previous article. As we explained,
In Maine, the majority of school districts do not have a public high school. Instead, the state extends tuition assistance to parents to send their children to the high school of their choice, whether local or distant, in-state or out, and even if the high school is in a foreign country. Very inclusive, right? Except the state won’t allow tuition assistance to attend “sectarian” schools. So it’s a no-go if parents want to send their children to a high school that “promotes the faith or belief system with which it is associated and/or presents the material taught through the lens of this faith.” In other words, you can pick a school that has any perspective or philosophy you like – except a religious one.
Maine parents challenged the discriminatory exclusion in federal court, but the federal district court and court of appeals ruled against them. So the parents asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.
We had filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the parents in the appeal. We filed again when the parents sought Supreme Court review, urging the high Court to take the case. And on July 2, the last day before the Court recessed for the summer, the Court announced that it had granted the parents’ petition for review.
This is big news, and good news. For too long, lower courts have found reasons – or felt compelled by old precedent – to invalidate programs that give real, practical choices to parents who view a religious school as the best option for their children. For too long, religion has been treated as if it were some kind of disease or radioactive contaminant that spoils school instruction. More recently, the Supreme Court has confronted and rejected this anti-religious view of the lower courts. Yet old habits die hard, as the lower court ruling in Carson v. Makin illustrates.
We plan to file another amicus brief – our third in this case – supporting the parents in their quest to end this unfair – and unconstitutional – discrimination. The Supreme Court is likely to hear the case sometime in the fall and issue a ruling in the first half of 2022. We will continue fighting to ensure school choice for every parent.