Dec 2, 2021
Four years ago, in a case from Missouri, a majority of justices of the Supreme Court agreed that a Lutheran church that operated a day school was entitled to funding from a state program for upgrading playgrounds in the interests of child safety.
Last year Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, leaned heavily on that ruling in upholding a Montana program that provides scholarships for students to attend nonpublic schools, including church-sponsored ones. To disqualify religious schools because they are religious would be penalizing religious free exercise, Roberts said.
Now the Supreme Court is being asked to take the next step--arguably, the only reasonable one. The new case, Carson v. Makin, comes from Maine and is scheduled to be argued before the court December 8. A decision is expected next spring or early summer.
In Maine, where 143 of the 260 school districts do not have public high schools, the state provides tuition assistance for students to attend nonpublic schools of their choice, wherever located. Exclusive New England prep schools are among the recipients of these funds. But not church-sponsored schools deemed too religious by the state education department.