On Tuesday, CNS News reported that the Supreme Court has ruled that the State of Maine cannot limit its tuition assistance programs to non-religious schools. Six of the Justices voted against limiting the assistance to only non-religious schools, citing the First Amendment prohibiting laws that limit the free expression of religion.
The article reports:
“Maine has enacted a program of tuition assistance for parents who live in school districts that do not operate a secondary school of their own,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority:
“Under the program, parents designate the secondary school they would like their child to attend — public or private — and the school district transmits payments to that school to help defray the costs of tuition. Most private schools are eligible to receive the payments, so long as they are ‘nonsectarian.’
“The question presented is whether this restriction violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”
As the opinion noted, Maine has limited its tuition assistance payment to “nonsectarian schools” since 1981.
The petitioners wanted to send their children to accredited religious schools, but since those two schools did not qualify as “nonsectarian,” they were denied the state tuition assistance payments.
The petitioners sued the commissioner of the Maine Department of Education, alleging that the “nonsectarian” requirement violated the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
As parents increasingly speak out against some of the values being taught in our public schools, religious schools that better reflect the values of parents are becoming more popular. Since the State of Maine provides tuition assistance where secondary schools are not available, the parents should have the right to choose their child’s school. I thought liberals were about ‘choice.’