The United States Supreme Court released a 6-3 decision called Carson v. Makin that reverses many decades of precedent. The decision requires the state of Maine to provide public funding to religious schools because the state funds private schools in areas where population is so sparse that public schools are not available.

The two religious schools at issue are Temple Academy in Waterville, Maine, and Bangor Christian Schools. Temple Academy expects its teachers to “integrate biblical principles with their teaching in every subject” and “to spread the word of Christianity.” Bangor Christian Schools seeks to develop “within each student a Christian worldview and Christian philosophy of life.” Both schools deny admission to students based on their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion. Both schools require their teachers to be born-again teachers.

Why should the state of Maine or any other state be required to fund schools that practice discrimination and violate federal civil rights laws? Why should people who do not share the religious ideas of these schools be compelled to underwrite them? Why should a Catholic or a Buddhist or a Jew or a Muslim or an atheist pay taxes for schools that will exclude their own children and will refuse to hire them or their children as teachers?

Although the conservative majority likes to claim its loyalty to an “Originalist” interpretation of the Constitution, this decision cannot be called “Originalist.” The founders were very clear about their commitment to separation of religion and the state. They were keenly aware of the centuries of bloodshed in Europe that religious strife caused. They wrote the First Amendment to the Constitution to protect freedom of religion, but also to prevent any establishment of religion by government. These two phrases have often been in tension, and the Court has typically balanced them so that everyone is free to practice their religion but without government subsidy. There is literally nothing in the Constitution that supports this majority decision. It is hard to imagine a Supreme Court decision that departs more radically from the explicit, unambiguous statements of the Founding Fathers.

Some religious groups have fought for many decades to gain government funding for their schools, which are used to indoctrinate children into the tenets of their religion. It is somewhat ironic that at the very time that so many conservatives are criticizing public schools and teachers for “indoctrinating” their children into liberal views about racism and gender, they would nonetheless enthusiastically endorse the idea of public subsidy for religious organizations that explicitly indoctrinate children into their views.

There is a simple solution to the issue at hand: Maine and other states that fund private schools should stop doing so. They should use public funds only to support public schools. Public schools should be subject to all state and federal laws governing civil rights, health, and safety. Any private or religious schools that accept public funding under this ruling should be required to comply with the same state and federal laws that apply to public schools.

Here is the full decision.

I will separately post the dissents by Justice Breyer and another by Justice Sonia Sotomayer, which of course are included in the full decision.