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CNN sounded the alarm over the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of religious schools in the case of Carson v. Makin on Tuesday, fretting that the Court was now “elevating” religious liberty over “free speech.”
The high court ruled in a 6-3 majority Tuesday that the state of Maine could not exclude private schools with religious teaching from receiving funds from their tuition assistance program. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the state had violated the Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment.
Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin warned this ruling showcased a “major trend” from the Court in favor of religious schools and against the Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from establishing a religion.
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“That idea is breaking down under the conservative majority. There are more and more opportunities, whether it is funding textbooks, whether it is funding playgrounds, now scholarships, where it is permissible for the government to give money to religious institutions. It is a conflict between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. And under this conservative majority, the Free Exercise Clause is winning case after case,” he cautioned.
Co-host Jim Sciutto also suggested this ruling could lead to less funding available for public schools, before asking legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers, to explain the Court’s decision.
Rodgers, who once stated on CNN that you “don’t have a First Amendment right to lie,” claimed the Establishment Clause would soon be eroded away.
“The old saw of separation between church and state, which is based in the Establishment Clause, is really breaking down. We’re really seeing that it is not going to be there, the more and more that this court erodes the Establishment Clause by elevating freedom of religious expression, the Free Exercise Clause above the notion of the Establishment Clause,” she argued.
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Rodgers doubled down on her concern that “religious aspects of the First Amendment” were being “elevated” above others.
“We’ll just have to see how much more eroded it gets in the years to come,” she cautioned.
The panel wrapped up the segment worrying about vouchers hurting public schools.
Toobin hyped how this could lead to a “death sentence” for public schools, if parents were given the option to send their children to the schools of their choice through voucher programs.
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Co-host Poppy Harlow added that meant government could “fund” religious schools who don’t accept students who won’t agree to their standards or sign a statement of faith.
“Absolutely. Despite who these schools, as Elena Kagan brought up in oral argument, do not admit, right Jeffrey, to your point, that they would be funding schools like these, that admit they do not admit homosexual people, transgender people or non-Christians,” she said.