Several religious schools in Minnesota are suing the State over discrimination in an education program by reason of faith.
How the Minnesota plan discriminates
Bob Unruh at WorldNetDaily has the details. Minnesota offers to help high school students earn college credits, in its Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program. But Gov. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) signed into law a measure that excludes certain Christian schools. Schools run afoul of the new law if they require their students to sign statements of faith. The two schools the law currently bars are University of Northwestern-St. Paul and Crown College.
The PSEO program is more than forty years old. Until now parents understood that any student may attend any eligible public or private school of their choice.
The Becket Law Firm is recognizing Northwestern and Crown, plus two Christian families, in a lawsuit against Minnesota. Loe v. Walz, 0:23-cv-01527, in the U.S. District Court for the Minnesota District. (See also the case file at Becket.) The families are Mark and Melinda Loe, on behalf of their two children, and Dawn Erickson, on behalf of her child.
According to the complaint, Northwestern-St. Paul and Crown have accepted PSEO students for more than twenty years. Then Minnesota passed its new law, apparently with no rationale other than the statements of faith. At first Judge Nancy E. Brasel issued a preliminary injunction against the State, so that PSEO admissions could continue.
But on July 7, State officials countersued, alleging civil rights violations by the two schools. Specifically the State accuses Northwestern-St. Paul and Crown of forcing students to:
- Set aside any religious faith contrary to the Christian faith of the two schools, and/or:
- “Disavow their sexuality or gender identity.”
In sum, the State now requires any PSEO participating school to accept all comers, including LGBTQ+ students. Minnesota seeks to strengthen that claim on the basis of the nearest non-religious PSEO school being 27 miles away. A student who could walk, say, to Crown, but had “no reliable transportation” to travel the 27 miles, suffers discrimination. That according to the theory of the counterclaim.
The State Department of Education makes issues of the traditional exclusive province of State government in providing free public K-12 education. The plaintiffs, on the other hand, cite Carson v. Makin and other Supreme Court precedents that forbid State or local governments to discriminate against religious families.
The two schools have filed a motion to dismiss the counterclaim. The court heard argument on those motions on November 6.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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