By Gudrun Schultz
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 30, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal seeking to overturn a decision by the top Maine court upholding a ban on religious schools in a state tuition voucher program.
The program provides parents from regions without high schools with vouchers to cover tuition at schools of their choice. State school districts in 145 small towns with no high schools provide the vouchers to 17,000 students, who may use them at public or private schools, in-state or out-of-state.
Religious schools are no longer included, however, after the state passed legislation in 1983, on the grounds that the inclusion of faith-based schools in the program would in effect force the state to fund a religious institution.
The Institute for Justice represented a group of Maine parents who filed suit against the Durham School Department, in Anderson v. Durham School Department, arguing that the exclusion of religious schools from the program violated their First Amendment rights by discriminating against religion.
The April ruling by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld the state legislation. The court’s decision said the voucher restrictions were not unconstitutional but were an attempt by the state legislature and the attorney general to respect the Constitution by separating church and state, and were not motivated by any religious hostility, according to a report the Associated Press.
See Anderson v. Town of Durham et al: