by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Supreme Court looked likely on Wednesday to strike down a Maine law that excludes religious schools from a voucher program, strengthening parental rights to use taxpayer dollars at faith-based schools.
The Biden administration is trying to get the case tossed on a technicality to protect its teachers’ union allies. A majority of the Court was unpersuaded by the attempt during oral arguments Wednesday and viewed Maine’s law as biased against religion.
“[One] neighbor says, ‘We’re going to send our children to secular private school.’ They get the benefit. The next-door neighbor says, ‘Well we want to send our children to a religious private school.’ They don’t get the benefit. That’s just discrimination on the basis of religion right there at the neighborhood level,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh said.
Progressives are facing multiple prospective defeats on priority issues at the Court this term. The justices have signaled that they could overturn Roe v. Wade and expand the right to carry concealed firearms by June of next year. Despite the rightward trend, interest in court packing seems to be dissipating among establishment Democrats after President Joe Biden’s judicial reform commission refused to endorse court expansion or term limits in its final report.
School choice advocates are backing the attack on Maine’s law amid mounting frustration with public schools. Long-term suspension of in-person instruction and curricula changes on sensitive subjects like race and sex are fueling a nationwide spike in homeschooling and private school enrollment. The nation’s largest teachers’ unions filed amicus briefs supporting Maine’s law, and they’ve been outspoken in opposing vouchers on the grounds that they siphon taxpayer dollars out of public schools and dilute labor power.