‘Faith-Based’ Fracas: Supreme Court Lets Taxpayer Challenge Go Forward In Kentucky

Americans United got some good news yesterday in a “faith-based” funding case that began back in 2000.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Alicia Pedreira and other Kentucky taxpayers against the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children. Using millions in public funds, the sectarian childcare agency has been indoctrinating children in religious beliefs and discriminating on religious grounds in employment, firing Pedreira for being a lesbian.

The lawsuit alleged that the use of taxpayer dollars to fund the Baptist Homes is unconstitutional and that the Baptist Home’s anti-gay employment policy violated employment-discrimination statutes.

Pedreira v. Kentucky Baptist Home for Children spent the past decade traveling through the legal system. First, the federal district court dismissed both the tax-funding and the employment discrimination claims. Then, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the tax-funding claims. And yesterday, the Supreme Court said it would not hear the case – rejecting an attempted appeal by the Baptist Homes and sending the case back down to the district court for further proceedings, including a possible trial, at last.

This is good news. Now, the 6th Circuit’s ruling will stand. Though the appellate panel dismissed Pedreira’s statutory employment discrimination claims, it upheld state taxpayers’ right to challenge state support for a faith-based agency with a record of indoctrination and job discrimination.

The district court will now determine whether Kentucky acted unconstitutionally by providing government funds to the Baptist Homes for the performance of social services in a sectarian manner.

Even today, the Baptist Homes (which has since changed its name to Sunrise Children’s Services) is funded primarily by Kentucky and federal taxpayer dollars, receiving more than $100 million in government funds since this case began.

Perhaps, after all these years, the courts will put a stop to this misuse of public resources.