Amid school closures and mandates during the pandemic, many dissatisfied parents were finally won over by the idea of school choice: that educational funding should follow students, not bureaucratic, stagnant systems. Each student has unique needs, and the one-size-fits-all public education system does not best serve every student equally. Plus, with the rampant indoctrination in the classroom around teaching about critical race theory as well as LGBT material, families are increasingly wary of keeping their children in public school.
Many of you parents, of course, know this and some of you choose to send your children to independent and Christian schools, but states like Maine discriminate against religious schools.
Institute for Justice attorney David Hodges litigated Espinoza v. Montana at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020, a huge ruling that asserted states cannot discriminate against religious schools in any kind of program that supports families in school choice.
This case laid the groundwork for Carson, Gillis, and Nelson v. Hasson, in which the plaintiffs are three Maine families who have filed a lawsuit against the state of Maine for its exclusion of religious schools from the school choice program. The Institute for Justice and the First Liberty Institute are arguing on the plaintiffs’ behalf.
In the towns of Orrington, Glenburn, and Palermo, families are offered tuition for high school so students can attend a public or private secondary school of their choice instead of “maintaining” their own public school. State law in Maine, however, prohibits families from using that tuition to attend religious schools.
In 2020, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of school choice in Espinoza v. Montana, a federal appeals court confusingly ruled that “participating schools can be religious in name, but if they do religious things, a parent cannot select that school under Maine’s program” (see full explanation from the Institute for Justice).
This ruling blatantly violates the U.S. Constitution’s Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clause. Thus, the plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in February 2021, and in July, SCOTUS accepted the case to be heard!
Carson, Gillis, and Nelson v. Hasson will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2021-2022 term, which means a ruling will likely be handed down next spring.
Based on the Espinoza ruling, it seems abundantly clear that SCOTUS should rule in favor of the three Maine families, thereby unleashing complete school choice in Maine! This would be a monumental ruling for religious liberty and school choice not only right here in Maine, but across the country as well.
School choice uses tax dollars most efficiently to the greatest benefit of families and students.
Please join CCL in praying for the wisdom of the Institute for Justice (IJ) and First Liberty Institute (FLI) teams as they prepare to argue before the Supreme Court!
“Rejoice in the Lord always.” (Philippians 4:4)
Together with endurance in Christ,
Christianity and Politics Class
For the next 10 weeks (starting September 12th), Carroll is teaching Christianity and Politics at Crosspoint Church, 1476 Broadway, Bangor. This interactive class begins at 6 PM in room 10 each Sunday evening. If you don’t have a home evening church service to attend, please enrich the class by joining us.
We are willing to serve your ministry by speaking in person or recording services for you. If you are interested in the League helping out with your pulpit needs, contact Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org