Eulitt v. Maine Department of Education

Eulitt v. Maine Department of Education, 386 F.3d 344 (1st Cir. 2004)

Litigation: Challenging the exclusion of religious schools as a choice for parents using town tuitioning funding for private school tuition. Opposed to educational choice program: Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Maine Civil Liberties Union, Maine Education Association, National Education Association, People for the American Way Foundation  In support: American Center for Law and Justice

Outcomes: The Federal Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that it was constitutionally permissible for Maine to exclude religious schools notwithstanding the ruling of the U.S. Supreme court in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (see Ohio, below). The court concluded that there was no religious animus in play and that Free Exercise rights were not implicated.

Why it Matters: This case was the basis for the subsequent ruling of the First Circuit in Carson v. Makin, a similar case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court (see Maine, Carson v. Makin, in “Active Litigation” below).

Effects: Eulitt has stood as a block to Maine parents who sought to send their children to religiously affiliated schools as the best educational option for their children. Now the U.S. Supreme Court may conclude whether the Eulitt court’s reasoning will, or will not, prevail.