No Vouchers For Douglas County Religious Education, Judge Says

Updated 6 p.m. -- A federal judge has rejected an attempt to force the Douglas County school district to allow vouchers to be used at religious schools.

Thursday's court hearing was the latest in a long running legal battle over the vouchers. The program provides grants to students who may use them to attend private school, but not religious schools.

Michael Bindas of the Virginia-based Institute for Justice says that ban violates the federal constitution.

"The case law is clear," he said. To withhold otherwise available financial aid from families simply because of religion violates the federal constitution."

The district originally allowed the vouchers for faith-based schools but last year the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that violated the state constitution.  The school district is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court and has dropped religious schools from the program in the meantime. That led the parents, represented by the Institute for Justice, to sue in federal court.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the challenge. 

“As we’ve argued throughout this case, and as the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed, parents are free to send their children to private, religious schools if they wish, but taxpayers should not be forced to pay for it," the ACLU's Matt Douglas said in a statement.

The district didn’t have a response to Thursday's hearing, but previously said the new voucher program was written to meet state constitutional limitations.

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