December 2007 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A New York City church has filed a lawsuit in federal court in an effort to obtain public funds to open a charter school.

The New Horizon Church Ministry, represented by a group called the Gotham Legal Foundation, contends that the New York Charter Schools Act unconstitutionally discriminates against religious entities seeking publicly funded charters.

Foundation lawyers argue in their New Horizon Church Ministry v. Spitzer lawsuit that the charter school law perpetuates religious discrimination rooted in the state’s constitution.

A provision of the New York Constitution bars the state from using public money “directly or indirectly, in aid or maintenance, other than for examination or inspection, of any school or institution of learning wholly or in part under the control or direction of any religious denomination….”

First Amendment supporters argue that the New York Constitution does not foster religious discrimination, but instead works to ensure that the public funds are not used to promote religion.