The U.S. Supreme Court in January declined to review a case involving parents in Maryland who sought to use taxpayer money to fund their child’s education at a private, religious school. The high court’s refusal to hear M.L. v. Smith leaves in place a lower-court opinion that protects church-state separation.

Akiva and Shani Leiman – the parents of a child with special needs who is known in court documents as M.L. – were trying to compel Montgomery County Public Schools to cover the cost of M.L.’s tuition at a Jewish school. The Lei­mans conceded that the public school system could provide an appropriate education for children with dis­abilities like M.L.’s, but they also wanted M.L. to receive the religious and cultural lessons they believe he needs in order to live in their Orthodox Jewish community.

In August, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the county school system was not required to provide or fund religious instruction. The school district “provided M.L. with equal access to an education, on the same basis as it provides to all other students with disabilities,” wrote Judge G. Steven Agee in an opinion for the court.

Americans United had filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the 4th Circuit that noted that all special-needs children have the right to a quality public education, but no child has the right to taxpayer-funded religious instruction.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

Join the Fight and Donate Today