Anderson v. Town of Durham

Last modified 2011.09.15


  • Status Closed
  • Type Counsel
  • Court State Court
  • Issues Government-Supported Religion, Schools and Learning, Taxpayer Funding of Religion, Vouchers

Several towns in Maine do not operate their own high schools. Instead, they pay tuition for students to attend nonreligious private schools or neighboring public schools. In the late 1990s, parents of religious-school students filed suits in state and federal court to challenge the exclusion of religious schools from the program. The courts concluded that payments to such schools would violate the Establishment Clause.

After the U.S. Supreme Court held that school vouchers did not violate the federal Constitution, even if used at religious schools, the religious-school parents filed a new suit, in state court, against three Maine towns and the State. We intervened in the case on behalf of resident Maine taxpayers.

The trial court rejected the plaintiffs’ claims, concluding that the state could decline to fund tuition at religious schools in order promote diversity in public education, because the religious schools discriminated on the basis of religion and thus had non-diverse student bodies and curricula.

In April 2006, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine upheld the trial court’s decision. The U.S. Supreme Court later denied the plaintiffs’ petition for review.

BREAKING:

The Supreme Court just gutted decades of precedent by stripping away public school students’ religious freedom rights.

This is the greatest loss of religious freedom in generations. Help us fight back!

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