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Americans for Prosperity Foundation and yes. every kid. file brief in Supreme Court educational freedom case

Mar 12, 2021 by Cindy Crawford

Every kid needs and deserves a quality education — one that provides them with essential skills and helps them find and develop their talents and interests. Our nation’s education system should be flexible and responsive enough to support students as they identify the subjects and practices that engage them and drive their passion. That’s the best way to develop the habits of lifelong learning, and prepare them to succeed.

Unfortunately too many students are required to attend a school that doesn’t meet their educational needs and left without access to additional education models.

That’s why yes. every kid. and Americans for Prosperity’s sister organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, filed an amicus brief in an upcoming case before the U.S. Supreme Court, in support of the parents and students seeking a better education.

Carson v. Makin is a case that originated in Maine, where families who find themselves without access to a local public school can use a longstanding program that covers tuition costs for an alternative school of their choice — unless they choose a faith-based school.

The Supreme Court will decide if states may deny equal school access

It has long been argued that this barrier is unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue bolstered that argument. Now the Supreme Court has been asked to hear the case of Carson v. Makin to resolve a lingering narrow legal distinction that has broad impact.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation and yes. every kid. argue in their joint amicus brief to expand a student’s right to attend a school of their choice and that the government cannot deny that right based solely on the religious distinction of that school:

In Maine, a child who wants to use her tuition assistance to attend a religious school will be precluded by the express terms of the Maine statute. One might expect such a law, which discriminates on its face against a First Amendment right, would be subject to strict scrutiny. But unlike other constitutional protections, the scarlet label “sectarian” places the burden on the child to explain why the discrimination was unjustified.

[…]

Speakers are not required to prove earnestness to overcome government censorship. News organizations do not have to demonstrate sincerity before publishing an article. Protesters do not have to establish deeply-held beliefs before protesting. And children need not establish a heartfelt desire to attend a particular school before exclusion based on race is suspect. None of these must prove their deeply held beliefs are implicated before courts require the government to justify discrimination.

But religious exclusions from education are not only constitutionally anomalous because the student bears the burden, but because the applicable level of scrutiny is only determined after the dispositive issue has been decided.

This is an important step toward correcting the age-old overreach by governments interfering with the ability of every student to exercise the freedom to access the individualized education they deserve.

If the petitioners prevail, with the support of AFP Foundation, yes. every kid., and others, students, notably in Maine and potentially across the country, will have greater access to education opportunities that were otherwise unfairly denied.

Read the full Carson v. Makin brief in AFP Foundation’s amicus brief library