A federal lawsuit in Maine seeks to provide families with aid to religious schools.
The lawsuit, filed by Institute for Justice and First Liberty Institute, challenges a school choice statute in Maine that allows the parents of students who live in a school district that doesn't provide a high school to send their children to private school at taxpayers' expense.
"However, the statue restricts parents from sending their children to religious private schools at the government's expense," explains First Liberty attorney Lea Patterson. "The lawsuit that we have filed will challenge that statute because it discriminates against the families who wish to send their children to religious school but are unable to do so."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, meaning they want to come in on the lawsuit as a co-defendant with the state trying to defend the law. Regardless, First Liberty believes it has a case.
"Maine's law blatantly discriminates against parents based on religion by providing some families with tuition support for the school of their choice but denying that same support to other families," explains Patterson. "The U.S. Supreme Court has established in cases such as Trinity Lutheran that the state is obligated to treat entities the same, regardless of whether they're religious or not."
"Two our clients send their children to private Christian school," the attorney continues. "One sends their child to a secular private school because they're unable to afford the religious private school without that state aid, so they're just proceeding as they always have – and in the meantime we're hoping that we can get better outcomes for them."
The case is Carson et al. v. Hasson. It is filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine.
Read the case summary from First Liberty Institute