WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — In a six to three decision, the Supreme Court held that private religious schools have a right to state tuition programs.
“What this case does is it further shuts the door on religious discrimination,” First Liberty Attorney Lea Patterson said.
Before today, the state of Maine paid the tuition for some students, as long as they weren’t religious schools. Patterson says that rule violated the First amendment.
“It’s that religious exclusion that the supreme court held is penalizing religion,” Patterson said.
Patterson says the newly issued opinion will prevent discrimination.
“The state’s not choosing where that money goes, it’s based on the parent’s choice and the state really has no interest in excluding religious participants from that program. That’s the real discrimination going on there,” Patterson said.
But some organizations believe the decision blurs the lines between church and state, and is part of a larger movement.
“To weaponize religious freedom, to misuse it and to turn it into a form of conservative white Christian privilege,” Americans United CEO Rachel Laser said.
Laser is disappointed by the ruling because she says the religious schools are the ones that discriminate.
“They won’t admit LGBTQ kids, kids with LGBTQ parents, they expel kids that won’t renounce their LGBTQ identity and seek conversion therapy, and they teach against the Muslim religion,” Laser said.
Mary Kusler, National Education Association Center for Advocacy and Political Action Senior Director says the ruling will hurt students.
“It is going to drain resources out of our schools that need it the most. Our schools engage with every student no matter what their background is,” Kusler said.
The court’s liberal justices opposed the decision but Chief Justice Roberts says this program violates the free exercise clause of the first amendment.