The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a vital case involving the state of Maine’s school choice program and their blatant religious discrimination. In Maine, the state extends tuition assistance to parents to send their kids to the high school of their choice. However, there is one caveat with this voucher program – it cannot be a Christian or a religious school.
In some areas of Maine there are no public schools, so this is a really problematic issue of discrimination.
Parents of the students in Maine that have been affected by this exclusion challenged Maine in federal court. Unfortunately, the federal district court and court of appeals ruled against them. So, the case is now going to the Supreme Court. We have already filed a friend-of-the-court brief advocating for school choice. Then, we filed an amicus brief supporting the parents of the Maine students and asking the Supreme Court to hear this case, which the Court has now agreed to do. So, we’ve already filed twice in this case and we are preparing to file again.
ACLJ Director of Government Affairs Thann Bennett explains the importance of states expanding their school choice programs:
We’ve been advocating from a federal level for a long time for the federal government to encourage states to do exactly what they have been doing over the course of this last year. By one count, Forbes did an article on this – there are 18 states that have enacted up to 21 new school choice programs. They all look a little bit different. . . . But the thing that they have in common is that all of them give individual students and individual parents an opportunity to have an additional choice in where they send their children. This disproportionately benefits low-income individuals. . . We’ve seen that laboratory in the states work. We’ve seen states expand these options. Unfortunately, when some states have expanded school choice such as in Maine, they will come with some strings attached that absolutely should not be there. If a student wants to take advantage of a school choice program and the parent of that student says the best option for my student is this particular school that has a faith-based component – that should absolutely be permitted. And under the framework of the Constitution, I think you could argue it should be required.
This is an opportunity for school choice to win. It shouldn’t be about zip codes or a family’s tax bracket for a student to gain a good education. If we fix this issue, we can have high performing students and schools and create more opportunities for teachers.
To learn more about the ACLJ’s work in school choice and education watch our new video series – Our Students Need Us Now More Than Ever.
Another issue the ACLJ has been working on is opposing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. We’ve seen anti-Israel discrimination and support of the BDS movement in Congress, and now we are seeing them in corporate America. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream – an American based company – announced they will no longer sell ice cream in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).” Read their statement here. In other words, they won’t sell their ice cream in key parts of Israel.
ACLJ Senior Advisor for National Security and Foreign Policy Ric Grenell has been instrumental in some of the biggest anti-BDS movements in history with both the Abraham Accords and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. He discussed the decision of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company:
I actually think it’s a really distorted sickness that many of American companies are doing this. . . . What is crazy about it is that – Israel – in the entire Middle East is the one country that values human rights and pushes for the rule of law and capitalism. . . . I think it’s not too much to say that Ben and Jerrys ice cream is boycotting a country that is solidly for human rights and in favor of a territory that on a daily basis discriminates against people. . . The idea that somehow, they are doing good by punishing the country that is a beacon of human rights in the area is a sickness. I just don’t see . . . how people can view it any other way.
This is a big problem when corporations in America decide to boycott our greatest ally in the Middle East – Israel. The ACLJ has been on the forefront in opposing the BDS movement and advocating for school choice for 30 plus years. We are engaged in not only issues like school choice in America, but also in issues in the Middle East like defending Israel. We will continue to monitor these situations and provide updates.
Today’s full Sekulow broadcast is complete with further analysis of the Maine school choice case at the Supreme Court and Ben and Jerry’s announcement of no sales in large portions of Israel.
Watch the full broadcast below.
As we aggressively engage at the state level, the Supreme Court, and on Capitol Hill for school choice and justice for every child, have your gift DOUBLED. Have your gift doubled through our Matching Challenge.
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.
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