Oklahoma Supreme Court finds Catholic charter school funding unconstitutional

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Oklahoma Supreme Court finds Catholic charter school funding unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Supreme Court blocked plans to open the first faith-based publicly funded charter school in the country with a majority ruling on Tuesday.

In a 6-2 decision, the court ruled that the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Charter School violated the state constitution as well as the Establishment Clause.

“Under Oklahoma law, a charter school is a public school. As such, a charter school must be nonsectarian. However, St. Isidore will evangelize the Catholic faith as part of its school curriculum while sponsored by the State,” Justice James R. Winchester wrote in the decision.

He added, “Enforcing the St. Isidore Contract would create a slippery slope and what the framers’ warned against – the destruction of Oklahomans’ freedom to practice religion without fear of governmental intervention.”

Local religious leaders plan to have the case reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. (AP)

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Justice Dana Kuehn dissented from the decision, believing that it would eventually be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Contracting with a private entity that has religious affiliations, by itself, does not establish a state religion, nor does it favor one religion over another,” Kuehn wrote.

Archbishop Paul Coakley and Bishop David Konderla expressed their disappointment at the decision in a joint statement later that day.

“Today’s ruling is very disappointing for the hundreds of prospective students and their families from across the state of Oklahoma who desired the educational experience and promise of St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School. We will consider all legal options and remain steadfast in our belief that St. Isidore would have and could still be a valuable asset to students, regardless of socioeconomic, race or faith backgrounds,” the statement read.

inside a church

St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Charter School was previously approved back in 2023. (iStock)

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The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City also confirmed to Fox News Digital that it plans to seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who filed the lawsuit in the decision, celebrated the decision as a “tremendous victory for religious liberty.” 

“The framers of the U.S. Constitution and those who drafted Oklahoma’s Constitution clearly understood how best to protect religious freedom: by preventing the State from sponsoring any religion at all. Now Oklahomans can be assured that our tax dollars will not fund the teachings of Sharia Law or even Satanism,” Drummond said in a statement.

He continued, “While I understand that the Governor and other politicians are disappointed with this outcome, I hope that the people of Oklahoma can rejoice that they will not be compelled to fund radical religious schools that violate their faith.”

Cross on a Bible next to a judge banging a gavel

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the charter school violated the state constitution and the Establishment Clause requiring the school to be “nonsectarian.” (Photo by: Pascal Deloche/Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images | Harold M. Lambert via Getty Pictures)

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Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board originally approved the school in a 3-2 decision back in June 2023. The first lawsuit against the decision came a few months later, in August.

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