The Buckeye Institute Calls on U.S. Supreme Court to Protect the Constitutional Rights of Parents

Sep 10, 2021

Columbus, OH – On Friday, The Buckeye Institute filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in Carson v. Makin calling on the court to make clear—as it has in many other cases—that it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution to deny students and their families financial aid that is available to all other students just because that family chooses to use their aid to send their child/ren to a religious or “sectarian” school.

“The core constitutional issues before the high court have been asked and answered many times: the government cannot discriminate against religion in administering benefit programs,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute. “Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ school provision denies generally available benefits on the basis of religion. Such restrictions violate the U.S. Constitution and cannot be allowed to stand.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that tuition assistance programs, like the one in Maine, can be used by families to attend religious schools,” said Larry Obhof, a partner at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick and counsel of record for The Buckeye Institute in this case. “Today we are asking the Court to make clear that those programs cannot discriminate against religious families and schools by excluding them because of their faith.”
Dave and Amy Carson—who are represented jointly by Institute for Justice and First Liberty Institute—live in a “tuitioning town,” where the state of Maine provides tuition assistance to students in areas that do not maintain a public school. The tuition assistance program can be used to attend a school of the family’s choice—whether public or private, in-state or out-of-state. However, the state of Maine will not allow the Carsons to use the tuition assistance to send their daughter to Bangor Christian Schools, which is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, because the school is “sectarian.” The Buckeye Institute filed its brief supporting the Carsons because Maine’s discrimination against religious schools and parents violates the First Amendment, and because Buckeye believes that parents and families are best positioned to make determinations regarding their children’s education.

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