In Drummond v. Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, Liberty Justice Center and the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty have jointly filed an amicus brief with the Oklahoma Supreme Court in defense of the religious charter school.
"This brief argues that Oklahoma's attorney general is denying religious schools the opportunity to become virtual charter schools in the state specifically because of his animus towards certain religions," says Jacob Huebert, president of Liberty Justice Center.
In June of last year, based off former Attorney General John O'Connor's legal opinion that the state's Virtual Charter School Board could not deny a school charter status based on its religious affiliation, the virtual charter school board granted a charter to a Catholic school.
"But then, Oklahoma's new attorney general, Gentner Drummond, withdrew the previous attorney general's legal opinion and filed a petition to revoke the Catholic school's charter," Huebert explains. "He said that allowing religious schools to be charter schools could lead to a slippery slope that would allow schools of all faiths, in his words, including those that most Oklahomans would consider reprehensible and unworthy of public funding, to be charter schools."
Drummond specifically cited extreme sects of the Muslim faith.
Though he claims the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School is state-funded religion, which violates the U.S. and Oklahoma Constitutions, he has acknowledged that "there is no binding precedent applicable to Oklahoma discussing whether charter schools are state actors."
But citing the First Amendment, Huebert points out that the government "cannot discriminate against religious organizations because of an objection to their religious beliefs."
Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that when it comes to educational benefits, the government cannot deny them to certain people or certain schools because they have a religious affiliation.
"Benefits need to be equally available, and the government cannot discriminate against religious people or religious schools," Huebert relays. "But that is exactly what Oklahoma is doing here, and that is what we are arguing against in our brief."
Drummond's office did not respond to AFN's request for comment.