The Supreme Court justices on Wednesday sounded ready to rule that states that offer scholarships or subsidies to private schools must include those operated by churches.
The court’s conservatives, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., said that excluding private schools because they are religious amounts to unconstitutional discrimination similar to racial bias.
States “do not have to fund private education at all,” said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. And most, he added, do not do so. But if they provide vouchers or grants to children or their parents for private elementary or secondary schools, they “may not discriminate” between the private schools that are religious and those that are not, he said.
Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh agreed, saying the schools and parents are “entitled to equal treatment.” This means, he said, “you can’t exclude religion” from the available options. He said the history of excluding religious schools from public funding has its origins in the “grotesque religious bigotry against Catholics” in the late 19th century.
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