For Immediate Release
Kate Uesugi, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-238-9088 (ext. 105)
Today, the Supreme Court handed down opinions in an important freedom from religion case: Carson v. Makin.
The American Humanist Association (AHA) denounces the 6-to-3 opinion in Carson v. Makin, which will require Maine’s tuition assistance program to use taxpayer dollars to fund religious private schools. Maine’s program is intended to help families, in rural areas where there are no public schools, send their children to private schools instead, thereby guaranteeing those families access to the equivalent of a public school education. With this ruling, taxpayer funds will be used to support religious schools, including those that teach religious beliefs.
Today, the Court ruled that the state of Maine could not discriminate against religious schools because to do so “’effectively penalizes the free exercise’ of religion.” This decision opens the floodgates for state governments to use tax-payer funds to support a whole host of religious uses. Religious school funding is only the tip of the iceberg.
“This Supreme Court decision forces taxpayers, including the nonreligious, to fund schools that explicitly promote religion or teach through a faith-based lens,” states Legal Director and Senior Counsel, Monica Miller. “The extreme religious majority of the Supreme Court continues to dangerously undermine past precedent and further dismantle the wall of separation of church and state.”
In her dissenting opinion on the case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor comments, “What a difference five years makes. In 2017, I feared that the Court was ‘lead[ing] us . . . to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment.’ Today, the Court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation.”
“The outcome of this case is a blow to the right to freedom from religion, a truly American ideal guaranteed by our Constitution,” comments AHA Executive Director, Nadya Dutchin. “This decision prioritizes the constitutional rights of religious schools over Maine taxpayers, and ultimately allows the public funding of institutions that discriminate on the basis of religion. Moreover, this horrible outcome is another clear win for the far right-wing reactionary movement utilizing “school choice” as a Trojan horse for school re-segregation. We need robust public education that adheres to clear separation of church and state. ”