Not Tired of Winning Yet CLIX

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme court in Carson v Makin struck another blow for the free exercise of religion.

Maine has enacted a program of tuition assistance for parents who live in school districts that neither operate a secondary school of their own nor contract with a particular school in another district.

Under that program, parents designate the secondary school they would like their child to attend, and the school district transmits payments to that school to help defray the costs of tuition. Participating private schools must meet certain requirements to be eligible to receive tuition payments, including accreditation.

Since 1981, however, Maine has limited tuition assistance payments to “nonsectarian” schools. Petitioners sought tuition assistance to send their children to Bangor Christian Schools and Temple Academy. Although both BCS and Temple Academy are accredited, the schools do not qualify as “nonsectarian” and are thus ineligible to receive tuition payments under Maine’s tuition assistance program.

The ruling held that Maine’s “nonsectarian” requirement for otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause.

In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court in Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the Supreme Court ruled that two Republican legislators in North Carolina can join a lawsuit to defend the constitutionality of the state’s voter-identification law.

Two lower courts had rejected the legislators’ request, reasoning that the state’s Democratic attorney general and the board of elections were already defending the law, but the justices reversed those rulings.

Thursday’s decision addressed only the legislators’ right to join the lawsuit to defend the voter-ID law; it did not address the underlying issue of whether the law violates federal voting-rights protections.