Supreme Court: Maine’s Tuition Assistance Program Must Cover Religious Schools

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states using taxpayer money to pay for students to attend nonreligious private schools must also use taxpayer funds to pay for attendance at religious schools. 

The decision invalidates provisions in 37 state constitutions that specifically ban the direct or indirect use of taxpayer money in religious schools. 

The vote went along party lines. Since the Supreme Court is now a conservative court, the vote was 6-3 in favor of tax money going to religious schools. 

The ruling comes from a case in Maine. The state is so rural that more than half of its school districts do not have a public high school. How the state handles this issue is by contracting with nearby high schools in other districts, and with private nonsectarian private schools. The payment is the average cost of public school tuition, which is a little more than $11,000. 

Two families in Maine were not happy with this funding system. They contended that the state should also pay for their children’s tuition at private religious schools. Here at the religious schools, the curriculum is “biblically based” with religion “integrated through all content areas.” 

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of agreeing with the case, meaning states will now need to use taxpayer money to pay for religious schools. 

By agreeing with the case, however, experts have said that the court has led the U.S. to a place where the separation of church and state is becoming a constitutional violation. The separation of church and state is one of the foundations of the U.S. 

Experts also say that the decision may spur a drive by private religious schools to seek funding as charter schools. Until now, religious schools have not been eligible for this. But now, some want to change this. 

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