Oral Arguments in Religious Liberty Case Signal Don’t Go Well for Maine

(PatrioticPost.com)- The Supreme Court held oral arguments in Carson v. Makin, the landmark case that will decide whether states can discriminate against parents who wish to use government tuition aid to send their children to private religious schools.

Carson v. Makin is the latest case regarding religious freedom in education.

In Espinoza v. Montana, the Supreme Court recently ruled that the government cannot prevent funding from a generally-available tuition program from going to religious schools.

The current case before the court involves a Maine tuition program that permits some rural families to use education tax dollars to choose a private school if their town does not have a public high school.

And from the Justices’ remarks during oral arguments, it was clear the six conservatives on the court were not persuaded by Maine’s defense that the state is paying for the rough equivalent of public school, but they won’t pay for religious inculcation.

Naturally, the three liberal justices made it clear they were siding with Maine.

Maine’s tuition program has been in place for a century, but in 1980, the state’s attorney general issued a ruling that the program as written violated the Constitution’s establishment clause because it permitted parents to choose private “sectarian” schools. In 1981, the Maine legislature ratified the attorney general’s decision and changed the program to prevent parents from choosing “sectarian” schools.

While the state of Maine concedes that it cannot discriminate against schools based on religion, it contends that it can ban public funds from going to a school that promotes certain religious views to its students.

Maine’s law was upheld by the First Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled because Maine’s program only applies to students who don’t have access to public schools, those who seek religiously “intertwined” education are not seeking “equal access” to the benefit of free education.

In arguments, Maine’s chief deputy attorney general Christopher Taub told the justices that the issue is whether the private school in question is “inculcating” students in a “particular religion.”

Justice Alito quizzed Taub on whether the state of Maine would take the same position for a school that is “inculcating” children in Critical Race Theory.

Taub claimed he didn’t know what Critical Race Theory is.

The Court isn’t expected to rule on Carson v. Makin until late June 2022.