Explain It To Me: SCOTUS: School choice must be for all, not just secular schools

Jun 24, 2022 | Wisconsin Voices Blog

The Supreme Court’s decision again recognizes the importance of allowing parents to choose the best educational opportunities for their children and ends archaic religious discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected efforts to block the schoolhouse door for low-income families, and this victory builds on incredible momentum in favor of expanding school choice across the country.    – Daniel Suhr, Liberty Justice Center Managing Attorney

  • What happened? In a case named Carson v. Makin, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the State of Maine could not discriminate against actively religious schools by excluding them from its town tuitioning program, which provides publicly funded vouchers to students in rural areas to use at nonpublic schools.


  • Why it’s important? Defenders of the education status quo have always cynically championed “the separation of church and state” to try and kill school choice. They know the overwhelming majority of nonpublic schools are religious in background or affiliation, so if they can exclude them from school choice, then parents have a lot fewer choices. School choice without religious schools is meaningless in many communities, a theoretical right with no actual options. The Supreme Court has rejected this line of thinking three times before, but the educrats continue trying to find new ways to describe their exclusion of faith-based schools. Here, Maine said that it wasn’t excluding all religious schools, just those that are actively religious. You can have a chapel on your campus, you just can’t require students to attend weekly chapel or you forfeit your voucher eligibility. The Supreme Court rightly said that is still discrimination against religious schools.


  • What’s next? This decision should drive a stake through the heart of yet more Blaine Amendments, the nickname for century-old state constitutional provisions that mandate discrimination against faith-based schools. And it should provide a boost of momentum for school choice advocates in their legislative battles by taking another argument off the table for the teachers unions and others who will use any tool to stop school choice.