Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauds today’s United States Supreme Court opinion protecting religious liberty.
The opinion issued in Carson v. Makin comes after Rutledge led a 21-state coalition urging the Supreme Court to declare that Maine could not exclude religious schools from its school choice program. The Court agreed, holding that Maine’s exclusion of religious schools violated the First Amendment.
“Today’s win at SCOTUS protects our religious liberty rights and ensures parents have more choice in their child’s education,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “More parental choice in education will mean more educational opportunities for children.”
In this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed a federal district court’s decision rejecting the plaintiffs’ claims and allowing discrimination against religious schools to continue. In September 2021, Rutledge led a 21-state coalition urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Court of Appeals’ decision. She had also previously led an 18-state brief in March 2021 urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review of the lower court’s decision.
Arkansas has a record of success partnering with private schools, including religious schools, to increase access to educational options. For example, the Succeed Scholarship Program, enacted in 2015, provides private-school scholarships to students with disabilities, students in foster care, and other students. Religious schools are important participants in the Succeed Scholarship Program. In 2021, Arkansas enacted a new tax-credit scholarship program that does not discriminate against religious schools. This program provides private-school tuition funds for children from families with incomes equal to or less than 200% of the federal poverty level.