Former AG Bill Barr and David Boies support brief in Supreme Court case over Maine religious school fees

EXCLUSIVE: Former Attorney General Bill Barr backs new Supreme Court amicus brief, led by Democratic lawyer David Boies, opposing Maine’s decision to prevent public tuition fees from going to students who choose to attend religious schools.

The Supreme Court agreed this summer to take up the Carson v. Makin, which stems from a Maine program that allows Maine residents to attend private high schools if their local district does not have a public school.

“Maine law is a reflection of the relentless secularization campaign to drive every vestige of traditional religion out of the public arena,” Barr said in a statement from the Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies (DFI).

“Maine has no objection to providing funds for students to attend private schools that aggressively educate children in behaviors that reflect the progressive values ​​and practices of contemporary America. faith-driven practices, forcing families to choose between abandoning their religious beliefs and forgoing the necessary public assistance to which they are otherwise entitled by law. This is an unacceptable violation of the First Amendment and religious discrimination of the worst kind. “


The state says it cannot discriminate against schools based on their status as a connection to religious institutions. But he says he can ban money from going to school if he promotes a certain religious point of view among his students – which many religious schools do.

This follows a recent Supreme Court case which ruled that the government cannot prohibit government assistance in a generally available program of going to religious schools.

The previous case, Espinoza v. Montana, was considered a major victory for defenders of religious freedom. But Maine’s program includes different language which, if maintained, could effectively neutralize Espinoza.

Friday’s brief was filed by David Boies, a Democratic lawyer who represented former presidential candidate Al Gore in Bush v. Gore. One of the lawyers of the firm Boies would have helped former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with the preparation for the debate.


“The free exercise clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from imposing religiously based restrictions on citizens’ personal decisions,” said Boies. “Here, the state is trying to use religious criteria to decree which high school parents can send their children to simply because parents receive generally available tuition assistance. This law strikes at the heart of the free clause. exercise and is clearly prohibited by it. “

The First Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the Maine law, said that since the Maine curriculum only applies to students who do not have access to public schools, those seeking a Religiously “intertwined” education does not seek “equal access” in favor of free education.

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said:Sadly, religious discrimination has been tolerated for too long, not only through bans on religious schools like the Maine law, but also through other unnecessary restrictions on students like Blaine’s sectarian amendments. “

Fox News’s Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

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