(JNS) Agudath Israel of America has filed a brief in support of a case before the Supreme Court of Michigan urging the court to uphold a state program that provides for state reimbursement to nonpublic schools for services provided by the schools in compliance with state mandates.
In the case, Council of Organizations and Others for Education About Parochiad, Et Al V. Michigan, Et Al, Michigan’s program of mandated reimbursement is being challenged because it provides for state aid to religious schools, and opponents of this aid claim that this violates a provision in the state constitution that prohibits government assistance to religious institutions.
The Agudath Israel brief argues that a provision in the Michigan state constitution that prohibits state aid to religious schools, called a “Blaine Amendment,” was adopted primarily due to anti-Catholic bigotry, as was Michigan’s approval of a ballot proposal that prohibits the state from providing aid to religious schools.
The brief argues that under a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Comm. for Pub. Ed. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, decided in 1980, the court held that it is constitutional for a state to provide reimbursement to religious schools for their performance of state-mandated services, and that such aid is not a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The brief also states that under a more recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, to deny reimbursements to religious schools because of a state Blaine Amendment would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits government interference with the free exercise of religion.