HARRISBURG – Commonwealth Court granted a victory to Joy El Ministries in a case involving overreaching government mandates that hindered its ability to operate a released time program. Independence Law Center Chief Counsel Randall Wenger says ministries should be free from arbitrary imposition of inapplicable state laws. The Independence Law Center represented Joy El Ministries along with Cornerstone Law Firm and Smith Bukowski. Released time programs allow for public school students to receive religious instruction outside of school during the school day. A longstanding policy with the PA State Police and PennDOT has been recognition that groups like Joy El may provide transportation to attend released time programs, only so long as they didn’t call their vehicles “school buses” or include equipment like flashing lights. However, an issue arose when a state policeman reversed course, grounding many of Joy El’s buses and drivers for not complying with inapplicable standards only necessary for picking up and dropping off children along roadways – something Joy El never does. The court held that State Police attempted to apply inapplicable standards and that Joy El does not pick up or drop off children along roads. As a result of the decision, groups like Joy El will be protected in their ability to carry out their ministry.