Liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor lashed out at her conservative colleagues on Tuesday over a school choice decision in a case involving Maine.
In a blistering dissent, Sotomayor accused them of working to “dismantle the wall of separation between church and state” after the majority ruled 6-3 in Carson v. Makin that Maine cannot exclude religious schools from the state’s taxpayer-funded school voucher program.
Corey DeAngelis, a school choice advocate, tweeted news of the ruling: “U.S. Supreme Court just ruled in a 6-3 decision that preventing school choice families from taking their children’s taxpayer-funded education dollars to religious private schools violated the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment.”
BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court just ruled in a 6-3 decision that preventing school choice families from taking their children’s taxpayer-funded education dollars to religious private schools violated the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment.
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) June 21, 2022
“Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.
“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,” he continued.
“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 went on to claim that such a decision might eventually lead the court, saying, “Today, the court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation.”
Dr. Pradheep Shanker, a radiologist and frequent conservative commentator on health and public policy, disagreed and said that Sotomayor actually has the concept backwards.
“WRONG. The government saying religious beliefs BLOCKS people from participating in government UNDERMINES the separation of church and state. The STATE is barred from isolating religious beliefs. Sotomayor ignores that,” he wrote on Twitter.
The government saying religious beliefs BLOCKS people from participating in government UNDERMINES the separation of church and state.
The STATE is barred from isolating religious beliefs. Sotomayor ignores that. https://t.co/Sr9705sXFk
— Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) June 21, 2022
“If you take Sotomayor’s reasoning to the full extent, every [religious] based outfit can never participate in the public square fully. If you are atheist, you can. This was always an obvious violation of the 1st amendment. Sotomayor blew it,” he added in a short thread.
“The state cannot bar religious outfits from participating in public programs any more than they can block anyone else. Sotomayor would make a SPECIAL class of believers (religious) that are excluded,” he continued. “Religion was never supposed to be separated from the public square.”
“Government always has the choice to stop spending the money at all. But as long as they are spending, they can’t exclude you ONLY because you believe in a faith system,” he added.