LAS VEGAS, Nev.— Today, the ACLU of Nevada, joined by the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the law firm of Covington & Burling appealed District Court Judge Eric Johnson’s decision in Duncan v. Nevada to the Nevada Supreme Court on behalf of a group of taxpayers. The district court’s decision failed to give full effect to the strong protections provided to the people though Article 11, sections 2 and 10 of the Nevada Constitution.
“Today, we once again stand up for Nevadans and fight against the voucher program’s unconstitutional erosion of the separation of church and state. For more than 130 years the Nevada Supreme Court has recognized that the Nevada Constitution strictly prohibits state sponsored support of religious educational institutions. With this appeal we hope to cease private religious schools’ ability to use taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate and discriminate against students on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and other grounds,” said Amy Rose, ACLU of Nevada legal director.
"By prohibiting taxpayer funds from supporting religious purposes, the Nevada Constitution provides robust protection for religious freedom," said Heather L. Weaver, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. "With today's appeal, we intend to see that the courts respect this principle."
“Nevada taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize religious views with which they disagree,” said Richard B. Katskee, Americans United’s legal director. “The framers of the Nevada Constitution understood that prohibiting the public funding of religion would allow the religiously diverse citizens of this state to live together in harmony. We stand today in defense of that fundamental principle.”
Duncan v. Nevada was originally filed on August 27, 2015, in the District Court of Nevada. The State of Nevada filed a Motion to Dismiss shortly thereafter, and a hearing on this motion was held December 10, 2015. More than five months later, on May 18th, 2016, District Court Judge Eric Johnson granted the State’s motion.
“Since Duncan v. Nevada was filed we have fought to uphold the Nevada Constitution’s guarantee of separation of church and state. Public dollars should never be used to fund private religious beliefs or religious instruction. Personal religious choices are private and should be funded privately. The public must trust that their tax dollars will not be exploited in tearing down Nevada’s wall separating church and state,” said Tod Story, ACLU of Nevada executive director.
About American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada
Started in 1966, the ACLU of Nevada is celebrating its 50th year of public service. The ACLU of Nevada is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to the defense and advancement of civil liberties and civil rights for all people in Nevada. For additional information, please visit http://www.aclunv.org.
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