South Carolina sued by private schools that want public money

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 1:54 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A group of private schools is suing South Carolina, saying the racist past of a state constitutional amendment prohibiting spending public money on religious or private schools means it should be overturned.

The Liberty Justice Center filed its lawsuit Wednesday in federal court on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston and a group of mostly religious or historically Black colleges and universities.

The lawsuit came after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled against Gov. Henry McMaster, who wanted to send federal COVID-19 relief money to private schools.

The lawsuit says the prohibition on public money for private schools came from anti-Catholic bias in the people who wrote South Carolina’s 1895 constitution.

“This lawsuit seeks to achieve something that every American can stand behind: We’re fighting to strike down a century-old law that was enacted with the purpose of discriminating against our fellow citizens,” said Daniel Suhr, senior attorney for the Liberty Justice Center. “The U.S. Constitution promises all of us equal treatment and protection under the law – regardless of our race, religion or creed. More than 100 years ago, when the South Carolina Constitution was enacted, a provision was enacted that is still being used to foster discrimination against religious and independent schools in the state. It is time for us to stand up and eradicate this bigotry so it cannot be used to deny educational resources to students in South Carolina.”

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