Carson v. Makin (U.S.C.A. 1st Circuit, 2019)

Separation of Church & State

1st Circuit Court of Appeals ,

Separation of Church & State

The State of Maine does not operate public secondary schools in certain parts of the State and reimburses parents for the cost of tuition at private schools. The program is limited to secular institutions because Maine’s Constitution provides for stricter separation of church and state than the First Amendment. Parents seeking tuition reimbursement from the State for private religious schools that indoctrinate faith, proselytize and discriminate claim that the Free Exercise clause requires this funding. ADL joined a brief asserting that there is no such requirement because longstanding U.S. Supreme Court precedent allows states to provide for stricter church-state separation than the First Amendment. Furthermore, the Court’s 2017 decision concerning public funding for a religious school’s playground resurfacing materials has no bearing on the case and reaffirmed this principle under which the First Circuit previously upheld the program in 2004.