Academic journal article Education Next

Faith in the Law: The Supreme Court Upholds Religious Discrimination

Academic journal article Education Next

Faith in the Law: The Supreme Court Upholds Religious Discrimination

Article excerpt

On February 25, I lost a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. I had lost at the district court level as well, but a victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had lifted my hopes. What's more, a ruling in my favor seemed a natural extension of the Supreme Court's 2002 decision upholding Cleveland's school voucher program in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris. Alas, it was not to be.

The road to my lawsuit, Locke v. Davey, began more than four years ago, when the state of Washington revoked my "Promise Scholarship." The scholarship was available to students from low- and middle-income families who finished in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes and enrolled at a college in Washington State. Only in October of my freshman year at Northwest College did I learn that my decision to major in church ministry ran afoul of the state constitution's ban on public support for religious instruction.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I believed that the state's exclusion of theology majors from the Promise Scholarship program was wrong, both as a matter of constitutional law, which guarantees the free exercise of religion, and as a matter of social policy, which ought to promote freedom and equality and prevent religious discrimination. Accordingly, I decided to take a principled stand against what I considered a grave injustice. I kept my major, thus forfeiting my scholarship.

I soon contacted the American Center for Law and Justice, a public-interest law firm that specializes in religious liberties litigation. With their pro bono representation, I sued several Washington officials, among them Governor Gary Locke, arguing that the state's exclusion of theology majors from the Promise Scholarship program violated my rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, and equal protection under the laws.

The scholarship money was never my primary motivation in the suit. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.