September 2016 Church & State - September 2015

AU Legal Director Argues Nevada Voucher Case

  AU admin

A new voucher scheme in Nevada violates the state constitution by directing taxpayer funds to sectarian schools, AU Legal Director Richard B. Katskee told the Nevada Supreme Court in July.AU and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada are representing five state residents in the Duncan v. State of Nevada case. The groups cite the “no-aid” clause of the state constitution, which forbids giving tax funds to religious institutions. A lower court upheld the program, but AU and the ACLU appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Many of the schools taking part in the program limit admission based on religious affiliation and discriminate against LGBT students and students with disabilities. Many also implement religious curricula. Liberty Baptist Academy, for example, says its mission is to “help families raise up their children for Christian service” and uses the A Beka curriculum, which is produced by fundamentalist Pensacola Christian College.

The state, with the assistance of former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, argued that the program does not violate either the state or the U.S. Constitution because parents decide which school receives the money.

Katskee disagreed. “It’s clear money here is going to end up going to religious schools,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “This is not the state giving a check to parents and saying now do with it as you please.”

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