In April 2015, Nevada implemented the nation’s first universal education savings account (ESA) program, which is designed to allow parents to use some or all of the funding that would go toward their child’s traditional public education on things such as private school tuition, textbooks, and tutoring.
In August, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Nevada over its ESA program, alleging it violates the state’s Blaine Amendment, a state constitutional ban against using public money for “sectarian purposes.” Blaine amendments, which exist in many states across the country, were borne out of anti-Catholic bigotry in the 1800s.
In May, Nevada District Judge Eric Johnson dismissed the lawsuit, ruling, “The state has no influence or control over how any parent makes his or her genuine and independent choice to spend his or her ESA funds.”
Johnson also wrote in his decision, “Parents, if they choose to use the ESA program, must expend the ESA funds for secular education goods and services, even if they choose to obtain those services from religion affiliated schools.”
The ACLU is now appealing the ruling. The organization’s legal director in Nevada, Amy Rose, said in a statement the purpose of the appeal is “to cease private religious schools’ ability to use taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate and discriminate against students on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and other grounds.”
Despite the ACLU’s mission statement, which claims to “defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States,” this most recent appeal exposes the organization’s true goal of destroying the liberty granted to parents and their children by the ESA law. The only thing the ACLU cares about defending and preserving here are entrenched, traditional government schools.