Press Release

Students renew plea for equal access to textbook lending program New Mexico Supreme Court to reconsider earlier ban following U.S. Supreme Court’s Trinity Lutheran decision

Media Contact

Melinda Skea 202-349-7224 media@becketlaw.org

Additional Information

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of New Mexico students will stand up in court today to ask for equal access to the State’s decades-old textbook lending program. In Moses v. Ruszkowski, activists sued to stop students at religious schools from participating in the program, which was created to combat New Mexico’s abysmal education ranking and to help rural and low-income children with limited educational opportunities. Becket, on behalf of families and the New Mexico Association of Non-Public Schools (NMANS), is pushing back against the activists’ claim that the lending program violates the New Mexico constitution because it allows children from religious schools to access educational materials.  

Both the New Mexico First Judicial District Court and the New Mexico Court of Appeals protected the students’ right to participate in the program on equal terms with all other students across the state. But in 2015, the New Mexico Supreme Court reversed the decision, ruling that the program violated the state’s Blaine Amendment, a 19th Century anti-immigrant provision aimed at excluding Catholics from full participation in public life. Becket appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and, in June 2017, the Justices ordered the New Mexico Supreme Court to reconsider its earlier ruling in light of Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, a related case involving Missouri’s Blaine Amendment, which ruled that states cannot discriminate against participants in public programs because of their religion.  

What:
Oral argument in Moses v. Ruszkowski 

Who:
Eric Baxter, vice president & senior counsel at Becket    

When: 
Monday, May 7, 2018, at 9 a.m. MST 

Where: 
New Mexico Supreme Court
237 Don Gaspar Ave #104
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
 

A Becket attorney will be available for comment immediately following the hearing.  

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Melinda Skea atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7224.Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. 

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Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court.For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, includingBuddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians(read more here).