The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the approval of what would have been the nation’s first publicly-funded religious school was unconstitutional, according to court records.

Oklahoma’s Virtual Charter School Board voted to approve an application for a virtual religious charter school in June 2023, prompting state Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond to file a lawsuit in October to block the funding, calling it “an irreparable violation of our individual religious liberty” and “an unthinkable waste of our tax dollars.” The Oklahoma Supreme Court ultimately sided with Drummond on Tuesday, finding that “under Oklahoma law, a charter school is a public school” and that “as such, a charter school must be nonsectarian,” per court filings.

The court’s decision also found that the proposed Christian school violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, according to the document. Any petition for appeal must be filed within 10 days of the ruling.

The board initially voted to deny an application from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa to establish St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School due to concerns regarding its constitutionality. Catholic Conference of Oklahoma Executive Director Brett Farley welcomed legal challenges after the school’s application was later approved so that the courts could resolve the legal question of whether or not taxpayer funds can be used for such purpose.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) applauded Drummond when he initially filed his lawsuit, saying that the attorney general’s actions aligned with its desire to keep religion out of civic life, according to an October 2023 press release. The ACLU on Tuesday praised the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling, calling it “a victory for the separation of church and state.”

The ACLU and its various state branches have received millions in funding from an array of left-wing donors, including from George Soros’ philanthropic network, grant records show.

ACLU attorneys, joined by other groups like the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed their own lawsuit seeking to stop Oklahoma from funding the school, according to the press release. The nonprofits represented plaintiffs who objected to public funds being used to support institutions that allegedly discriminate against people on the basis of “LGBTQ+” status and “indoctrinate students into one religion.”

Drummond’s office distanced itself from the ACLU, telling the Daily Caller News Foundation that “the ACLU case is a separate case in which our office has no involvement.”

The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling was not unanimous, with Justice Dana Kuehn dissenting on the grounds that excluding a private entity from contracting with the state due to its religious affiliation violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, according to court records.



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