On June 21, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States released its decision in Carson v. Makin. The decision is consistent with other pro-religious liberty Supreme Court decisions released during the past several years.
Carson v. Makin arose from a dispute occurring in the state of Maine. In many rural areas of Maine, school districts have opted not to create high schools. Some districts that lack public high schools contract to send their students to specified private high schools, or to public high schools in other districts. In other Maine school districts that lack public high schools, parents receive government-funded vouchers for their children’s high school educations. Those parents are free to use those vouchers to pay tuition at the public or private school of their choice. In 1981, however, Maine passed a law requiring that vouchers be used only in “nonsectarian” (in other words, nonreligious) schools. The question before the Supreme Court in Carson v. Makin was whether this 1981 law violated the right to the free exercise of religion contained in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that the Maine law did violate the First Amendment. The majority held that “there is nothing neutral about Maine’s program. The State pays tuition for certain students at private schools—so long as the schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion.” The Court stated that the state of Maine was not obliged to provide public funds to nonpublic schools. However, according to SCOTUSblog.com, the Court added that “if states opt to subsidize private education, they cannot exclude private schools from receiving those funds simply because they are religious.”
“‘For 40 years, Maine’s law has unconstitutionally discriminated against parents regarding private schools based on religion. That discrimination ends today,’ said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel.”
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) applauds the Supreme Court for upholding religious liberty and protecting Christian schools.