• The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine ruled that a state law regulating homeschooling did not violate the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom. The Maine “compulsory education” law requires that children attend either a public school or “obtain equivalent instruction that is approved by the commissioner [of education].” Parents who homeschooled their children argued that “any judgment by government officials of the merits of parents’ educational choices is a usurpation by the state of the God-given, constitutionally protected religious autonomy of the family.” They directly challenged the legality of the Maine law. The court, citing Supreme Court rulings, stated that the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom is not violated unless the alleged victims can demonstrate that the exercise of their sincerely-held religious beliefs is restrained by the challenged governmental action, and that the challenged action is not based on a “compelling public interest.” The court acknowledged that the Maine law imposed a significant restraint on the exercise of the parents’ sincerely-held religious beliefs. But, it concluded that the state law was supported by a compelling interest that outweighed the parents’ constitutional rights, since “it is settled beyond dispute, as a legal matter, that the state has a compelling interest in ensuring that all its citizens are being adequately educated.” Blount v. Department of Educational and Cultural Development, 551 A.2d 1377 (Me. 1988).
© Copyright 1989, 1998 by Church Law & Tax Report. All rights reserved. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Church Law & Tax Report, PO Box 1098, Matthews, NC 28106. Reference Code: m65 m47 c0489