The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis— welcomes the Supreme Court of the United States of America’s decision of Carson v Makin as a victory for religious freedom. In Carson v. Makin, the United States Supreme Court held in a 6–3 landmark decision that the exclusion of faith-based schools from Maine’s tuition-assistance program for students in rural school districts is unconstitutional and that the program discriminates against faith-based schools. The Carson decision clarifies that the Constitution prohibits the government from withholding public benefits from religious schools. Chief Justice John Roberts states this clearly in the majority opinion: “The State pays tuition for certain students at private schools—so long as the schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion.”
The ruling is an important step in the fight for equal treatment of faith-based schools. The implications of Carson for education policy are quite significant. Currently, thirty one states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have private school choice programs. Faith-based schools are now required by law to be eligible for these programs. Carson v. Makin is a victory for parents who want to choose the culturally appropriate education for their children and a victory for children who now can be educated in their religious traditions regardless of their parents’ financial capabilities.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “Our rabbis hail Carson’s holding as a big win for religious freedom and democratic values. The decision clarifies that the constitution demands that religious schools such as Yeshivas and Day Schools qualify for government aid and funding. Accordingly, the Rabbinical Alliance of America requests that all states immediately implement this constitutional ruling by including religious schools in the full gamut and array of funding, support, and resources. As a society, our focus should be on molding students who are happy and productive citizens. For many decades, the Yeshiva and Day School movements have produced wonderful graduates who have contributed so much to this country. With proper funding, these important educational institutions will be accessible to children of all financial means. This is a win for parents, for children, and for America.”