February 2019 Church & State Magazine - February 2019

New Mexico Court Approves Private School Textbook Aid

  Rob Boston

Taxpayer dollars can be used to buy non-religious textbooks for private schools, the New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled.

The 3-2 decision, handed down in mid-December, reverses a 2015 ruling that determined that the textbook program runs afoul of the state constitution. The New Mexico high court was ordered to re-examine that decision in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, which approved public aid to resurface a church playground in Missouri.

“We reinstate the provisions of the [law] that allow private school students to participate in the textbook loan program,” wrote Justice Barbara Vigil for the majority.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that the case goes back to 2012, when several parents filed a lawsuit to stop the New Mexico Public Education Department from giving textbooks and computer programs to private schools. In 2014, the state had given nearly $1.4 million in tax aid to 109 private schools in the state.

Due to the ruling in the Moses v. Ruszkowski case, that aid will now be restored.

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