Nachum welcomed Nathan Diamant, Executive Director for the Orthodox Union (OU) Advocacy Center, to this morning’s JM in the AM to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling declaring unconstitutional the State of Maine’s policy that prohibits parents from using state tuition assistance payments at religious high schools. The ruling is in the case of Carson v. Makin with the majority opinion (6-3) authored by Chief Justice Roberts. For more information visit the OU Advocacy page HERE.
From OU Advocacy:
Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling declaring unconstitutional the State of Maine’s policy that prohibits parents from using state tuition assistance payments at religious high schools. The ruling is in the case of Carson v. Makin with the majority opinion (6-3) authored by Chief Justice Roberts.
Maine provides tuition assistance payments for all families with school-age children who live in locales that do not operate their own high schools. Under the program, parents may choose the accredited (or otherwise approved) school their child attends and the state will pay the tuition. But, since 1980, Maine has prohibited parents from choosing to enroll their children in “sectarian” high schools under the program. This discriminatory policy has been challenged in court twice (1999 and 2004) and the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the policy. The new lawsuit was brought now in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings in Trinity Lutheran v. Columbia (2017) and Espinoza v. Montana (2020). In both of those rulings, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional state aid programs that excluded the participation of religious institutions because of their “status” as religious entities.
In striking down Maine’s exclusionary policy the Supreme Court simply and forcefully stated: “The state pays tuition for certain students at private schools – so long as the schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion.”
(The Orthodox Union participated in the case by filing a friend-of-the-court brief co-authored by attorneys Gordon Todd and Daniel Feith of the Sidley & Austin law firm, Professor Michael Avi Helfand of Pepperdine Law School and Nathan Diament, Executive Director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center.)