On Tuesday, the Supreme Court in Carson v. Makin ruled in favor of parents seeking an education that matches their children’s needs and their family’s values. The Independent Women’s Law Center filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court supporting the parents.
This case is about a Maine school choice program, where families who live in a school district without a public school may use state funds to send their kids to private school, so long as the private school is not religious. The Supreme Court has long said that states can run school choice programs that allow parents to choose a religious school, without violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Today’s ruling goes further, and says that states must give parents the choice to attend religious schools. Maine’s program, which prevented religious schools from accessing state funds, violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
This is a huge victory for parents and young women. IWLC’s brief explained to the Supreme Court that many all-girls schools are religious, and an all-girls education provides countless benefits to girls. IWLC wrote that, “Studies have shown both that (1) all-girls schools respond to the distinctive ways in which girls learn much better than coeducational schools and (2) children who attend religious institutions perform far better than their secular-school peers on most objective academic criteria.” This means Maine’s prohibition on religious education often deprived girls of an all-girls education, and the opportunity to reap these benefits.
Allowing parents to choose religious schools goes beyond the benefits of single-sex education. As IWLC wrote, parents “also want their children to cultivate their character and to develop into
conscientious citizens. Attending religious schools helps with both.” For example, “drug use and premarital sex among high school students who attend religious schools occurs less often than at non-religious schools.”
The Supreme Court today gives more students in Maine the opportunity to choose the education that is right for them. Today’s win is for the next generation, and for the endless opportunities that await them when they receive the education they deserve.