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SCOTUS to decide whether states can deny voucher funds to religious schools

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The Supreme Court will soon decide if states that give money to parents for their child's high school education can exclude institutions that offer religious instruction.

In the recent past, the Supreme Court has been friendly to cases that made claims of religious discrimination.

In a case last year involving the state of Montana, the Court concluded that when a state provides money to fund a child's tuition, religious institutions cannot be excluded.

On Wednesday, the Court heard oral arguments in a case involving two sets of parents who are suing the state over a program in the state of Maine that pays a child's tuition to a school of the family's choice provided there is no public school in the area. The program requires the schools in question to be entirely secular.

The two families involved in the case wish to send their children to private Christian schools and have sued the state.

"Other families would have an opportunity to send their kids to a religious school of their choosing if they couldn't afford it themselves," Amy Carson, a plaintiff in the case, said.

The Carson family paid out of pocket so that their daughter could attend Bangor Christian School. Amy Carson argues that this is a case based on religious discrimination and that families who cannot afford the cost of a private school are being denied the same benefits as everyone else due to the religious affiliation.

The libertarian interest firm the Institute for Justice, which is representing families, says that this case has the potential to be "a landmark case" in a statement Friday. The lead attorney on the case, Michael Bindas, says that by "singling out religion and only religion" as a basis for exclusion from the tuition assistance program, the state of Maine has limited the rights of its citizens.

The state of Maine has successfully defended this case for the tuition program's decision on every level up to the Supreme Court and is confident that the decision will remain intact.

The state of Maine claims that the families have been denied tuition assistance on the grounds that the education the children are receiving is "not equivalent to public education."

“Parents are free to send their children to such schools if they choose, but not with public dollars," said Maine Atty. Gen. Aaron Frey.

The ACLU of Maine has filed court papers in support of the state and believes that the Supreme Court will side with the state of Maine in their ruling.

The Court is expected to reach its decision on the case by the end of June, according to NBC news.

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