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Oklahoma AG seeks to enforce law that discriminates against religious education

ADF attorneys represent Statewide Virtual Charter School Board
A brick church is seen on a bright sunny day with clouds behind the steeple

OKLAHOMA CITY – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board filed a brief Tuesday with the Oklahoma Supreme Court opposing a petition filed by the state attorney general. In the case, Drummond v. Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, Attorney General Gentner Drummond is asking the court to cancel the contract the board entered with St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School solely because St. Isidore is Catholic.

On June 5, the board approved a revised application to establish St. Isidore as a statewide virtual charter school. Drummond filed a lawsuit last month against the board, claiming it violated state law. But, as ADF attorneys explain in their brief, the board members took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that religious groups cannot be excluded from generally available programs solely because of their religious character.

“The board’s decision was informed by the Free Exercise Clause, which prohibits state officials from denying public funding to religious schools simply because they are religious,” said ADF Senior Counsel Phil Sechler. “Oklahoma parents and children are better off with more choices, not fewer. The U.S. Constitution and Oklahoma’s Religious Freedom Act both protect St. Isidore’s freedom to operate according to its faith and the board’s decision to approve such learning options for Oklahoma families. We urge the state’s high court to reject this legal challenge that discriminates against religion and affirm the constitutionally protected rights of religious groups to be treated the same as their secular counterparts.”

ADF attorneys are litigating another case on behalf of the board, Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee v. Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, in which the Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee sued to overturn the board’s decision approving St. Isidore. ADF attorneys filed a motion to dismiss that case, explaining that many of the claims are not ripe for decision and conflict with the operative facts and law.

  • Pronunciation guide: Sechler (SECK’-lur)

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to protecting First Amendment and related freedoms for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

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Phil Sechler
Phil Sechler
Senior Counsel
Phil Sechler serves as senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, where he focuses on academic and religious freedom.