Lawsuit Demands Taxpayer Funding for Religious Schools in Maine

Lawsuit Demands Taxpayer Funding for Religious Schools in Maine

Lawsuit Demands Taxpayer Funding for Religious Schools in Maine
By BMRROwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
The plaintiffs allege discrimination

The commissioner of the Maine Department of Education has been sued by three Maine families[/tweetit] over a certain state law which stops reimbursing of tuition fees for religious schools. The lawsuit filed in Bangor's U.S. District Court directly challenges a decades old Maine law. The three families are being represented by two conservative groups which have immense experience in such matters having filed such religious freedom cases before and in multiple states.

Lawsuit Demands Taxpayer Funding for Religious Schools in Maine[/tweetthis]

Maine's local administrative units where secondary schools are absent can pay an approximate amount as tuition for those students who wish to study outside the purview of the private or public school system. The money, however, cannot be spent on religious schools. The complainant has termed such conditions unconstitutional and discriminatory. The plaintiffs of the case are all parents represented by a total of two religious groups who advocate school choice and religious liberty. Interestingly, the law comes at the time when President Trump pushed multiple alternatives to the public schools central to the education policy in the state. About 30 states have made amendments to their constitution which bars state funding of all religious organizations.

The tuition program in Maine is an extremely old one, dating back to the latter part of the 19th century. The tuition giving program was a success, with more than 330 students attending religious schools by 1979. The problem began when the attorney-general of Maine in 1980 gave his legal opinion that it is illegal to spend taxpayer money to send children to schools which are characterized by an overwhelmingly religious atmosphere. Lawmakers by 1982 changed Maine state law to ban religious schools from receiving any tuition payments.

As per the suit, none of the three families have requested for tuition payments as they believe such requests are practically useless. The Institute for Justice, one of the two participating conservative groups, has also challenged Montana's willful exclusion of all religious schools from a program involving state and private school scholarship. The Institute of Justice has earlier assisted in defending the parents who won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2002. The court ruled that the school voucher program in Cleveland, Ohio was constitutional even if the parents send their children to religious schools. The courts agreed that discrimination is against the constitution for anyone who wants religious education.


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