In a press release Friday, Ohio-based think tank, The Buckeye Institute announced that they are “filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in Carson v. Makin calling on the court to make clear – as it has in many other cases – that it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution to deny students and their families financial aid that is available to all other students on the basis that family chooses to use their aid to send their children to a religious or ‘sectarian’ school.”
The Institute’s president and CEO, Robert Alt, said, “The core constitutional issues before the high court have been asked and answered many times: the government cannot discriminate against religion in administering benefit programs.”
According to FOX News, the Supreme Court case Carson v. Makin “stems from a Maine program that provides tuition for Maine residents to attend private high schools if their local district does not have a public school.”
The plaintiffs, Dave and Amy Carson, live in a town where the state of Maine provides tuition assistance to students in areas that do not maintain a public school. However, the state of Maine will not allow the Carsons to use the tuition assistance to send their daughter to Bangor Christian Schools because the school is “sectarian.”
The suit is filed against Maine’s Education Commissioner, Pender Makin.
This conflict violates the Carsons and other families First Amendment rights, according to the Buckeye Institute and other institutions filing amicus briefs.
Like the Ohio think tank, FOX News exclusively reported that former Attorney General Bill Barr announced that he, too, is supporting an amicus brief.
“Maine’s law is the reflection of the relentless campaign of secularization intent on driving every vestige of traditional religion from the public square,” said Barr in a release from the Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies (DFI).
A handful or states also submitted amicus briefs including the States of Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Currently, the State of Maine relies on local school administrative units (SAUs) to ensure that every school-age child in the state has access to a free education. Some schools do not fit the requirements and do not qualify for funding, such as private institutions.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.