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Supreme Court Allows for Use of Government Funds to Attend Religious Schools

A picture of the United States Supreme Court building on a sunny day with blue skies.

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a Maine law that prohibited parents from using local government vouchers to pay for primary and high schools that provide religious instruction. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts argued the law violated students' and parents’ religious freedom rights, as use of government funds does not breach the Establishment Clause that separates religion from the state. This decision follows a 2020 case where the Court ruled that families and schools could use government funds for educational aid programs that were backed by religious institutions. Maine challenged the use of funds specifically due to schools’ teachings of religious classes, but Justice Roberts maintained religious schools have the right to pursue their educational mission as they see fit. Justice Breyer in his dissenting opinion noted the decision was overreaching and posed significant problems for all communities who now face the question of whether they are obligated to use funds for tuition programs to pay for religious education. Justice Sotomayor, also dissenting, argued the Court’s decision damaged the key separation between church and state. CEC, along with a wide range of partners in the education and civil rights communities have longstanding opposition to the use of public funds for vouchers to private and religious schools. These schools are exempt from federal civil rights laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Title IX, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Furthermore, vouchers rarely cover the full cost of tuition, making them available only to the families who can afford tuition and fees above the cost of the voucher. Additionally, religious schools receiving vouchers can discriminate against students and teachers based on demographics such as gender and religion. 

Read more here. (separate subscription required)

Read CEC’s position statement on vouchers here.   


Posted:  24 June, 2022

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