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Mar 13, 8:04 PM EDT

Lawsuit tests 1970 ban on public aid for private schools

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- A lawsuit has been filed to challenge Michigan's ban on public aid for private schools.

The ban has been in place since voters added it to the state Constitution in 1970. A judge recently cited it while blocking the state from giving $2.5 million to private schools for fire drills, inspections and other state requirements. The Michigan Supreme Court declined to intervene.

The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of a group that includes a Roman Catholic school in Grand Rapids, parents and lawmakers.

The lawsuit says the 1970 ban was deeply rooted in anti-Catholic sentiment. Critics say it violates the U.S. Constitution in a number of ways, including equal protection and free speech.

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