Advocates advise that First Amendment protects school choice

Advocates advise that First Amendment protects school choice

Catholic schoolchildren. Credit: Diocese of Arlington.
Catholic schoolchildren. Credit: Diocese of Arlington.

.- Faith-based schools should not be excluded from Colorado's educational choice programs, according to a brief filed by attorneys in a case which is due to be heard by the state supreme court.

“School districts have a responsibility to provide the best educational choices for parents and their children without discriminating against religious options,” commented Gregory Baylor, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, in an Aug. 5 statement.

Baylor affirmed that religious schools in Colorado “provide an excellent education that meets all state standards. They should continue to be welcomed into programs like this one so that students, the community, and the government will all benefit.”
Taxpayers for Public Educations v. Douglas County was filed by those who maintain that the acceptance of religious schools in the county's Choice Scholarship Program breaches the state constitution, violating provisions governing the church-state relationship.

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled against the lawsuit, supporting Douglas County’s decision that religious options in education do not oppose the state constitution.

However, opponents filed for an appeal against this decision which will be reviewed by the Colorado Supreme Court.

The attorneys of Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief with the Colorado Supreme Court in defense of the appellate court’s decision, stating that the “Court of Appeals affirmed that the Choice Scholarship Program respects the first amendment and the private religious choices of Colorado families.”

“The Colorado Supreme Court has every reason to reach the same conclusion.”
On behalf of the Association of Christian Schools International, the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colorado Christian University, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Alliance Defending Freedom will uphold the case in Colorado Supreme Court, protecting the allowance of private faith-based schools in participation with the state’s educational choice programs.

Alliance Defending Freedom explained in the brief to the Colorado Supreme Court that “the First Amendment nurtures this country’s distinctive heritage of religious pluralism by preventing the government from either promoting or inhibiting religious viewpoints in the marketplace of ideas.”

“To ensure the continued validity of this marketplace, to foster religious pluralism, and to protect the religious choices of citizens, the government may not exclude from a religiously-neutral program an otherwise qualifying institution solely because the institution’s ideology is grounded in religious conviction,” the brief concluded, asserting that faith-based education is constitutionally supported.

Tags: Parental Rights, Religious liberty, Education, Disestablishment

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