Supreme Court rules religious schools can’t be excluded from Maine program offering tuition aid for private education

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 7:10 PM EDT
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(WABI) - A major decision Tuesday from the US Supreme Court has implications in Maine.

By a vote of 6-3, the court ruled religious schools can’t be excluded from a state program that offers tuition aid for private education.

The court held that Maine was violating the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by excluding religious options from the state’s high school tuition program.

In a statement, the Maine Department of Education says they’re reviewing the court’s decision and the implications it will have for Maine’s schools.

The Carson family of Glenburn filed the lawsuit in 2018 along with two other families in Orrington and Palermo.

They wanted to send their kids to Bangor Christian Schools or Temple Academy in Waterville.

Amy Carson spoke with us on Tuesday saying she’s glad she fought this battle so parents in similar situations don’t have to go through this.

”I was a kid when I went there knowing what my mother had to do to afford for us to go there. It would to me in the back of my mind who would take the stress off of her not having to pay that,” said Carson.

“The court’s decision today makes clear this is not a program that funds schools much less religious schools. It’s a program that funds families and empowers them to choose the schools that will best meet their children’s needs,” said Michael Bindas, Institute for Justice senior attorney.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey says he’s disappointed with the ruling.

He says he and state officials will address the court’s decision and ensure that public money is not used to promote discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry.

Frey adds that educational facilities that accept public funds must comply with anti-discrimination provisions of the Maine Human Rights Act.

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