Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor blamed her fellow conservative justices for dismantling the separation of church and state.
Earlier this week the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Carson v. Makin in favor of allowing religious schools to receive public funding meant for charter and private schools. The decision was made mostly on ideological lines, with Justice Sotomayor being chosen to write the dissenting opinion on the case.
In her dissent, Sotomayor ripped the conservatives on the court for their decision. The liberal justice said that the Framers never intended on public funds being used to benefit religious institutions. According to Sotomayor, the new ruling would require states to subsidize many of these same institutions.
“This Court continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the Framers fought to build,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “In just a few years, the Court has upended constitutional doctrine. Shifting from a rule that permits States to decline to fund religious organizations to one that requires States in many circumstances to subsidize religious indoctrination with taxpayer dollars.”
She continued her dissent, adding that the new ruling by the Court has made it so that trying to separate church and state could be viewed as violating the Constitution.
Despite her opinion on the case, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts viewed the resolution differently, suggesting it actually helps protect the First Amendment.
Writing the majority opinion, Roberts said, “Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Regardless of how the benefit and restriction are described, the program operates to identify and exclude otherwise eligible schools on the basis of their religious exercise.”
Ultimately the case will make it so that the government can no longer bar certain institutions from taxpayer-funded tuition assistance just because it could be used for private religious education.
Both sides are understandable in this case. One side wants to stop discrimination against religious institutions. The other wants to make sure they cannot collect public funds. What ruling would you have made on this case if you were a SCOTUS justice?