ADF fight in Vermont mirrors Montana ruling

Wednesday, August 12, 2020
 | 
Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

no crossA federal appeals court has temporarily stopped the State of Vermont from discriminating against students who attend private religious schools.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing two students and their parents, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, to challenge a state program that allows students to pursue dual enrollment for a college course during their junior and senior years.

The program allows students at secular schools to participate, and even allows homeschooled students, too, but religious schools are strictly banned.

ADF attorney John Bursch says the state is clearly being discriminatory.

"Under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment,” he tells OneNewsNow, “government cannot discriminate against religious schools, against religious families or religious students, only allowing that funding to flow to secular schools, not religious schools."

Bursh

A similar case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court just two months ago. The high court ruled 5-4 in Espinoza v Montana Dept of Revenue that a state scholarship program could not discriminate against students who wanted to use the funds to attend a religious school.

Bursch and ADF asked the court to issue an appellate injunction so the students could take advantage of the dual-enrollment program while the case continues to be litigated. The court agreed and issued an order August 5, which Bursh called a rare order in the federal courts.

“It' s not often,” he advises, “that appellate panels give you injunctions on appeal."

In May, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the case in support of the students, their parents and the diocese.

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