DeVos moves to allow religious groups to provide federally funded services to private schools

DeVos moves to allow religious groups to provide federally funded services to private schools
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Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosTrump aides pushed for states' ability to block migrant kids from enrolling in public schools: report Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid Buttigieg to Detroit audience: Don't judge Indiana by Pence and we won't judge Michigan by DeVos MORE announced Monday her agency will no longer enforce a federal provision that prohibits religious organizations from giving private schools federally funded services.

The decision is in response to a 2017 Supreme Court verdict that found that Missouri unconstitutionally denied a church-run preschool publicly funded tire scraps for its playground.

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“The Trinity Lutheran decision reaffirmed the long-understood intent of the First Amendment to not restrict the free exercise of religion,” DeVos said in a statement. “Those seeking to provide high-quality educational services to students and teachers should not be discriminated against simply based on the religious character of their organization.”

She added that a federal law overseeing all elementary, middle and high schools that mandates students receive “equitable services” unconstitutionally bars contractors from having affiliations with religious organization. The Education Department will still enforce the other provisions of the law. 

DeVos sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE (D-Calif.) outlining her conclusion.

“House Democrats are carefully reviewing the legality of the administration’s new policy,” Joshua Weisz, a spokesman for the House Education Committee, told The New York Times.

President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE has actively sought to extend religious liberty protections to church groups whose public activities have been regulated in the past. Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE issued guidance in 2017 to other Cabinet secretaries saying that laws “must not discriminate against religious organizations in their contracting or grant-making activities.” 

“Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law,” Sessions wrote. “Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting and programming.”