Washington, D.C.—Today, the Supreme Court ruled in Carson v. Makin that taxpayer funds can be used to support schools that provide religious education. The court found that states must allow these funds to go to religious schools if the choice under the program is up to the parents. The court further ruled that Maine violated the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion by denying funds from the state’s tuition assistance program to students attending religious schools. In response, Jesse O’Connell, senior vice president for Education at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
This ruling deals another major blow to religious freedom. It entirely ignores the Establishment Clause and further erodes the wall between separation of church and state. The two schools at issue in this case have admissions and hiring policies that allow them to openly discriminate against the LGBTQ community or religious minorities. The government should not be required to use public funds to support religious education, especially for schools that discriminate in their hiring or admissions. With this decision, right-wing justices are pushing the high court further toward erasing the First Amendment’s protection against government endorsement of religion.
Education is an opportunity for students to learn about themselves and others, which is why all students deserve to see themselves reflected in curricula and engage in learning that exposes them to new points of view. By diverting tax dollars away from public schools and to schools that can openly discriminate, this ruling puts these core tenets in jeopardy.
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