Supreme Court Sides With Religious Schools Over Maine

Court's conservative majority sides against Maine and restriction on use of public money
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2022 12:20 PM CDT
Supreme Court Hands Victory to Religious Schools
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday in Washington. Barriers have been erected as the court's Roe v. Wade decision is awaited. It was not among the rulings released on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

(Newser) – As the nation awaits the Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court continues to release other high-profile rulings from this year's term—including one on Tuesday that opens the door to lawsuits over the herbicide Roundup. Another on Tuesday has to do with the specific issue of education in rural Maine but the larger issue of the separation of church and state. Maine offers an unusual deal to parents in remote areas: If no public secondary schools exist where they live, the state will pay to send their children to a private school—but only if those schools are secular, per the Wall Street Journal. Two families who wanted to send their children to Christian private schools sued, and the court agreed with them that the restriction is illegal. The vote was 6-3, falling along the court's conservative-liberal split.

  • Majority: “There is nothing neutral about Maine’s program,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the majority, per the Washington Post. “The State pays tuition for certain students at private schools—so long as the schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion.” Another point he made: “A state need not subsidize private education,” Roberts wrote. “But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”
  • Dissent: “This Court continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the Framers fought to build," wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in dissent.
  • Assessment: In its coverage, the New York Times calls the ruling in keeping with the Supreme Court's recent shift. "The decision, from a court that has grown exceptionally receptive to claims from religious people and groups in a variety of settings, was the latest in a series of rulings requiring the government to aid religious institutions on the same terms as other private organizations."
(Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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