A federal appeals court has sided with Vermont students who are receiving a religious-based education, and an attorney who represented the students says the ruling marks a long-needed victory for school choice and for religious freedom.
The case before the 2nd Circuit deals with a voucher program that allows many students in the state to attend schools of their choice, which includes approved private schools but has excluded religious schools, The Associated Press reported this week.
"The 2nd Circuit made clear that if Vermont is going to provide families with school choice, which in some towns it does,” says attorney Paul Schmitt with Alliance Defending Freedom, “it cannot take that choice away from some families just because they choose to send their children to religious schools.”
ADF sued on behalf of four Catholic high school students in Burlington.
The federal case dates back to January, when a federal judge sided with the students but delayed their participation in the state program. The appeals court granted an injunction against the state in February and ordered the judge to amend his decision to allow the students to get reimbursed, the AP explained.
Schmitt tells One News Now the final ruling this week ends two decades of legalized discrimination against religious education in Vermont.
“This decision is important on a base level,” he says, “because it really rebuts a very pernicious form of religious discrimination that exists in state benefits programs.”
The ruling in Vermont follows a June 2020 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld a Montana scholarship program that allows participation by students who attend private schools.