Court to decide on public tuition for religious schools

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BOSTON (AP) — A panel of appeals court justices will decide whether the state of Maine should pay for three families to send their children to religious schools because they live in districts that lack high schools.

The families made their case in U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston on Wednesday when they argued the Maine Department of Education should pay the tuition. The department typically pays tuition for students in districts that don't have a high school to attend other public or private schools, but the money can't go to religious schools.

A Maine District Court judge ruled in favor of the department last year, but the families vowed to fight the decision. Their attorney, Tim Keller of Institute for Justice in Virginia, said during arguments that the government “may not exclude religion wholesale from a generally available benefit program.”

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey told the Portland Press Herald the state is optimistic the justices will agree that Maine's law on the matter is constitutional.

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