RUTLEDGE: Huge Win at SCOTUS Protecting Religious Liberties in School Choice

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauds today’s United States Supreme Court opinion protecting religious liberty. The opinion issued in Carson v. Makin comes after Rutledge led a 21-state coalition urging the Supreme Court to declare that Maine could not exclude religious schools from its school choice program. The Court agreed, holding that Maine’s exclusion of religious schools violated the First Amendment.

“Today’s win at SCOTUS protects our religious liberty rights and ensures parents have more choice in their child’s education,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “More parental choice in education will mean more educational opportunities for children.”

In this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed a federal district court’s decision rejecting the plaintiffs’ claims and allowing discrimination against religious schools to continue. In September 2021, Rutledge led a 21-state coalition urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Court of Appeals’ decision. She had also previously led an 18-state brief in March 2021 urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review of the lower court’s decision.

Arkansas has a record of success partnering with private schools, including religious schools, to increase access to educational options. For example, the Succeed Scholarship Program, enacted in 2015, provides private-school scholarships to students with disabilities, students in foster care, and other students. Religious schools are important participants in the Succeed Scholarship Program. In 2021, Arkansas enacted a new tax-credit scholarship program that does not discriminate against religious schools. This program provides private-school tuition funds for children from families with incomes equal to or less than 200% of the federal poverty level.

Carson as Parent and Next Friend of O.C. v. Makin, No. 20-1088 – Opinion

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018. Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative. She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves on committees for Consumer Protection, Criminal Law and Veterans Affairs for the National Association of Attorneys General. She also served as the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have one daughter. The family has a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.

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