Supreme Court weighs whether to hear another school religious freedom case

By: | June 22, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court will discuss Thursday whether to hear a case that could settle for good whether states can exclude religious schools from publicly funded voucher programs.

The argument in Carson v. Makin is over Maine’s tuition assistance program, which pays for students in towns without a public school to attend another one of their choice — public or private — as long as it’s not religious.

In October last year, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the religious exclusion, and the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court. But earlier this month the 2nd Circuit reached the opposite conclusion, ruling that students in a similar program in Vermont can use public funds at religious schools.

“It is a mess, to put it mildly,” said Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the libertarian Institute for Justice, which is representing the two families in Maine who sued over the state’s policy. The contradiction “cries out for Supreme Court review, and only the Supreme Court can resolve it,” he said.

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