This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
As the U.S. Supreme Court recently was ruling in its Carson v. Makin case that Maine "could no longer exclude faith-based schools" from a tuition assistance program, bureaucrats in the state were launching an "end run" around the decision.
The result? Another lawsuit against the state.
According to the lawyers at Becket, they are representing a Catholic family of five and a Catholic high school in the action that challenges the state's new procedures it wants to use to exclude faith-based schools from the tuition assistance program.
That program serves rural families by allowing payments for tuition to private schools in locations where there are no public schools available.
"Even though the Supreme Court struck down Maine’s religious ban last year, bureaucrats in the state are continuing to exclude faith-based schools and families who rely on the program," the legal team explained in a report. "In St. Dominic Academy v. Makin, the Radonis family and St. Dominic Academy, a high school operated by the Catholic Diocese of Portland, are fighting for their ability to help rural families educate their children in accordance with their beliefs. "
"As Catholic parents, we want to provide our children with an education that helps them grow in heart, mind, and spirit, preparing them for lives of service to God and neighbor,” Keith and Valori Radonis said in a statement released by their attorneys.
"All families should have the option to provide the education that’s right for their children using Maine’s tuition program, including religious families like ours."
They are organic farmers in rural Maine who want to send their children to schools that uphold their Catholic beliefs.
Becket said, "Both Keith and Valori grew up in Catholic homes, and they believe it is their religious duty to help plant, nurture, and cultivate the seed of faith in their own children. For years, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Portland—including St. Dominic Academy—assisted families like Radonises in providing their children with an education that reflects their beliefs through Maine’s tuition assistance program.
"This program allows parents in rural school districts to educate their children at private schools with no public schools nearby. That changed in 1982 when Maine began disqualifying faith-based schools and the families they serve from the program. Today, Maine is willing to pay for families in rural areas to send their kids to out-of-state boarding schools and public schools in Canada, but it won’t pay a penny for parents that choose a religious school in Maine."
The legal team noted that the practice was disallowed by the Supreme Court in Carson v. Makin, but the state's "end run" already was in progress.
"While the Supreme Court was considering Carson, Maine passed a new law to reimpose the same restriction challenged in Carson—and add a few new ones for good measure," the report said.
Becket said one problematic provision of the state law is that schools can get funding, but only if they allow "any religious expression" at all.
That means "a Catholic school like St. Dominic can’t have Mass unless it also allows a Baptist revival meeting."
Further, Becket said, the state wants to give its own Human Rights Commission—not parents and schools—the final word on how the school teaches students to live out Catholic beliefs regarding marriage, gender, and family life.
The legal action seeks a ruling striking the state's "anti-religious policy."
"Maine is willing to pay for kids to go to all-girls boarding schools in Massachusetts and public schools in Quebec, but parents who choose Catholic schools like St. Dominic—which have been educating Maine kids for more than a century—are still out in the cold," explained Becket lawyer Adèle Auxier Keim.