For Immediate Release
Kate Uesugi, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-238-9088 (ext. 105)
(Washington, DC, October 29, 2021) – The American Humanist Association (AHA) joined a brief filed today in the Supreme Court of the United States in Carson v. Makin, regarding whether Maine’s tuition-assistance program supported by public funds must support religious schools under the First Amendment.
“Using taxpayer dollars to fund religious instruction is fundamentally unconstitutional,” said AHA Legal Director and Senior Counsel Monica Miller.
The case was brought by two sets of parents who want to use public, state funding to send their children to private Christian schools.
The friend-of-the-court brief signed by AHA asserts that Maine’s program differs from the program upheld last year in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, as Maine’s program characterizes schools based on the “religious use” of funds and whether a school promotes religion or teaches through a faith-based lens, rather than just the schools religious “status.”
Today’s amicus brief, authored by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and co-signed by the AHA and a number of other prominent religious and civil rights organizations, argues that it is unconstitutional for public funds to support religious instruction. Since religious instruction in schools is a core means of supporting a ministry, states should not be required to fund religious instruction on an equal basis with nonreligious instruction, in accordance with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The brief calls upon the Supreme Court to affirm the ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The AHA is vehemently opposed to the use of taxpayer dollars to fund religious instruction, considering that it results in the unfair, forced participation of the nonreligious in supporting religious indoctrination,” comments AHA Deputy Director Nicole Carr. “We urge the Court to disallow the use of Maine’s tuition assistance program for religious uses.”
Arguments in Carson v. Makin will be heard on December 8th.
A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.
The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.