New Mexico Supreme Court Rules Private School Students May Obtain State-funded Textbooks

Stack Of Books

In a 3-2 decision, the New Mexico state Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that private school students may participate in a state-run textbook loan program without violating New Mexico church-state separation doctrine. Relying on the recent U.S. Supreme court case arising out of Missouri, the court reasoned that "loaning secular textbooks to private school students does not violate" New Mexico's constitutional prohibition of state support for religious schools.  

The state of New Mexico, the court reasoned, retains ownership of the books and controls the fund used to purchase them. Moreover, "[t]he textbook loan program furthers New Mexico's legitimate public interest in promoting education and eliminating illiteracy." 

The case includes an interesting history of education in New Mexico, including a detailed description of how Catholic missionaries and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe were educating citizens of the New Mexico territory years before public education was available.

December 31, 2018 - 8:14am

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