ND Law’s Religious Liberty Initiative files amicus brief in support of Maine families in school choice case

Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday (March 11), representing the Council for Islamic Schools in North America, Partnership for Inner-City Education, and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. The case is an important parental choice case, Carson et al v. Makin, that seeks to reaffirm that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause precludes discrimination against faith-based schools. In the case, three Maine families are challenging Maine’s exclusion of religious school options from the state’s school choice program. The program provides tuition support for eligible parents to send their children to private secular schools, but denies that same support to other families who chose religious schools for their children.

The First Circuit ruled that Maine’s exclusion of faith-based school was constitutionally permissible, reasoning that the program does not bar schools from receiving funding based on religious identity alone, but on use of tuition for religious instruction in the schools. The brief filed by John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law Nicole Stelle Garnett and Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law Richard W. Garnett, along with the Religious Liberty Initiative student cohort, challenges the application of this “status/use” distinction.

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