Hateful CNN: Smerconish Argues for Religious Discrimination from Government

It was the fourth night of Michael Smerconish’s run as the temporary replacement of Chris Cuomo and he was already showing boss Jeff Zucker just how awful he could be. In a segment about a fresh religious liberty case before the Supreme Court for oral argument Thursday, Smerconish advocated for discrimination against religious schools when it came to a school choice program in Maine that seemingly breached the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

“Our kids’ classrooms have become political lightning rods. We’ve seen passions erupt from everything from masks to so-called critical race theory,” he scoffed as he moved to stoke the fears of CNN’s liberal audience. “The questions in Carson v. Makin could redefine fundamental American principles like separation of church and state as well as religious liberty.”

Plaintiff Amy Carson and her lawyer Michael Bindas were on with Smerconish and he didn’t spare the mom his ire. In his first question to Carson, Smerconish disregarded the facts and legal precedence to accuse her of trying to have her “kids educated at religiously affiliated schools and have the state pay for it.”

It was up to Bindas to confront Smerconish with the facts he refused to acknowledge. “Well, the program here isn’t funding schools. It’s funding families, and it’s allowing families to decide whether — where to use that money,” he schooled his host.

Adding: “And that kind of discrimination runs flat against the principles of the Free Exercise Clause. When government provides benefits to citizens to use, in this case, a private school, it has to remain neutral and allow parents to use them at religious or non-religious schools.”

A short time later, Smerconish asserted that affirming religious liberty was only an interest and priority of the conservative justices:

Look, the legal experts seem to think you have a winning hand, given the 6-3 divide of the court. Counselor, I’ll put this to you. If you’re successful, are you now opening up the door to the funding of religious-based charter schools? That really seems to be driving both the advocacy and concerns people have in this case.

But in recent history (June 26, 2017), the court in a 7-2 ruling (including liberal Justices Stephan Breyer and Elena Kagan) sided with a Lutheran school that the state of Missouri discriminated against when dishing out funds for playground safety upgrades. “But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand,” the Justices wrote in the majority opinion.

So, in reality, the ruling could be closer to 8-1 if Breyer and Kagan join again.

“The Pell Grant program has existed in this country for decades. The GI bill program has existed in this country for decades. As long as those programs have existed, kids have been free to go to Notre Dame, to BYU, to Yeshiva University and that’s perfectly fine. Why can the same principle not apply at the K-12 level,” Bindas noted, drawing parallels.

He drove the argument home by spelling out how the Free Exercise Clause applied: “This is not about government funding religion. It’s about government providing a benefit to individuals and allowing them to use it where they see fit.”

Smerconish revisited the topic during the handoff with Don Lemon, where he threw out a snide comment seemingly directed at Carson, which again disregarded the facts: “But here’s the thing. We paid for that education, my wife and me, and not the public.

This disgust for religious liberty and equal treatment under law was made possible because of lucrative sponsorships from Carvana and Amazon. Their contact information is linked so you can tell them about the biased news they fund.

The transcripts is below, click “expand” to read:

CNN Tonight
December 9, 2021
9:38:46 p.m. Eastern

SMERCONISH: Our kids’ classrooms have become political lightning rods. We’ve seen passions erupt from everything from masks to so-called critical race theory. But the Supreme Court is focused on a couple schools and a unique program that only exists in Maine.

The questions in Carson v. Makin could redefine fundamental American principles like separation of church and state as well as religious liberty.

You see, parts of Maine are so rural that they don’t have public schools, and in that case, the state will help families pay tuition at private schools. That could include schools affiliated with religious institutions, but not if the curriculum, quote, “promotes the faith or belief system with which it is associated.”

My next guest, Amy Carson, sent her daughter to her alma mater, Bangor Christian but the state wouldn’t help cover the tuition. She’s one of the plaintiffs in the case and is joined by her attorney, Michael Bindas.

Let me begin with you, Amy. And thank you so much for being here. You’re fighting for the right of parents to have their kids educated at religiously affiliated schools and have the state pay for it. Is that fair?

AMY CARSON: Yes. We live in a town that is a tuition town in Glenburn, Maine.

SMERCONISH: And counsellor, why is that not a violation of separation of church and state?

MICHAEL BINDAS: Well, the program here isn’t funding schools. It’s funding families, and it’s allowing families to decide whether — where to use that money. And currently, parents can choose schools, public schools in neighboring school districts. They can choose private schools. They can choose schools in state or out of state, and the state routinely pays for kids to go to some of the most elite blue blood prep schools in the country. Yet, parents can’t select a Jewish day school or a Catholic parish school in their town.

And that kind of discrimination runs flat against the principles of the Free Exercise Clause. When government provides benefits to citizens to use, in this case, a private school, it has to remain neutral and allow parents to use them at religious or nonreligious schools.

(…)

9:41:43 p.m. Eastern

SMERCONISH: Look, the legal experts seem to think you have a winning hand, given the 6-3 divide of the court. Counsellor, I’ll put this to you. If you’re successful, are you now opening up the door to the funding of religious-based charter schools? That really seems to be driving both the advocacy and concerns people have in this case.

BINDAS: It certainly is not driving our advocacy, and this case certainly will not open the door to religious charter schools. Charter schools, after all, are public schools. What this case is about is whether when government makes a benefit that parents — available that parents can use at private schools, whether it can allow parents to select any private school they want, anywhere in the nation, but exclude private schools simply because they teach religion. That’s the discrimination at issue in the case. This has nothing to do with whether religion can be taught in charter schools or other public schools.

(…)

9:43:47 p.m. Eastern

BINDAS: I mean, how long – The Pell Grant program has existed in this country for decades. The GI bill program has existed in this country for decades. As long as those programs have existed, kids have been free to go to Notre Dame, to BYU, to Yeshiva University and that’s perfectly fine. Why can the same principle not apply at the K-12 level?

That’s, at the end of the day, these programs provide aid to individuals, not to schools. And not a penny goes to any school, religious or nonreligious, but for the private and independent choice of citizens. This is not about government funding religion. It’s about government providing a benefit to individuals and allowing them to use it where they see fit.

SMERCONISH: Thank you both so much for being here.

View Original Source Source