A.M. v. French
Description: Vermont maintains a Dual Enrollment Program, under which high school students take college courses at public expense. The program’s main purpose is to promote opportunities for students to achieve postsecondary readiness through high-quality educational experiences. Students at public, secular private, and home-schools are eligible, but the state categorically excludes students at private religious high schools.
Appeals court: Vermont can’t discriminate against children attending religious high schools
“Vermont officials can’t treat people of faith as second-class citizens by excluding them from generally available public benefits. When the government allows same-district students from public schools, secular private schools, and homeschools to participate in its dual enrollment program but excludes only students from religious private schools, it discriminates against religious students. Today’s decision levels the playing field by ensuring that Vermont parents and students who have chosen a faith-based education can enjoy the same publicly available opportunities as their neighbors.”
Attorneys for a high school student, her parents, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington filed the lawsuit A.M. v. French in district court. They argued that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and in the ADF case Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, support ending Vermont’s discrimination in its dual enrollment program.
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Jake Warner serves as legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a key member of the Center for Conscience Initiatives. Since joining ADF in 2017, Warner has focused on protecting the conscience rights of individuals being unjustly forced to compromise their beliefs under threat of heavy fines and punishment. His practice also includes defending the freedom of Christians to exercise their faith in the marketplace without government interference. Prior to joining ADF, Warner served as a judicial law clerk to Senior United States District Judge Malcolm J. Howard in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Before his clerkship, Warner also engaged in private practice with the firm of Perry, Perry & Perry, in Kinston, North Carolina, where he primarily represented criminal defendants in both federal and state courts. Warner earned his J.D. at the Regent University School of Law, graduating magna cum laude in 2011. He obtained his B.A. in history and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006. Warner is admitted to practice in Arizona, North Carolina, and the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as several federal district and appellate courts.