U.S. Supreme Court endorses taxpayer funds for religious schools

Image credit Michael Mims on Unsplash

"Today's ruling is perverse", she wrote in her dissent.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said the application of Montana's constitutional provision discriminates against parents of children attending religious schools and violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom.

In the 5-4 ruling, the court essentially backed a Montana tax-credit scholarship program that gave residents up to a $150 credit for donating to private scholarship organizations, helping students pay for their choice of private schools.

The justices faulted the Montana Supreme Court for voiding a taxpayer programme merely because it can be used to fund religious entities, saying it violated the US Constitution's protection of the free exercise of religion.

The United States Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The ruling paves the way for some of those states including Missouri, Idaho and South Dakota to lift restrictions on funding for religious schools and could affect separate bans in ME and Vermont, said Tim Keller, a lawyer at the Institute for Justice, which represented the Montana mothers.

Roberts wrote, "A state need not subsidize private education". Now, families who receive education vouchers may apply those vouchers at any school they wish to attend, regardless of its religious affiliation or lack of such an affiliation.

Joining Roberts in the majority were the associate justices who generally make up the high court's conservative wing: Clarence Thomas; Samuel Alito; Neil Gorsuch; and Brett Kavanaugh. In the past, school choice advocates maintained a modest posture in the High Court, asking the justices to uphold low-dollar voucher programs in OH and Arizona. Co-counsel Erica Smith praised the decision in a press release. The agency cited the Montana constitution's no religious aid provision as justification for the rule.

In practice, most of the money went to Christian schools.


The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by three Kalispell parents whose children attend private, religious schools and had hoped to benefit from the scholarship programs. "Nor could they", Roberts wrote.

"The Supreme Court says travel website Booking.com can trademark its name, a ruling that also impacts other companies whose name is a generic word followed by ".com". She said that move did away with any discrimination based on faith.

In a dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the majority "barely acknowledges the play-in-the-joints doctrine here".

In the case, free exercise of religion was pitted against another element of the First Amendment - the separation of church and state that prohibits governmental establishment of an official religion or favoring one religion over another.

"The majority's approach and its conclusion in this case, I fear, risk the kind of entanglement and conflict that the religion clauses are meant to prevent", Breyer wrote in a dissent partly joined by Justice Elena Kagan.

It wasn't the first time so-called anti-prostitution pledges have been argued before the Supreme Court.

The ruling came in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Hat tip to SCOTUSblog, which had early coverage of the opinion.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

Second pandemic fears as new virus emerges in China
In China , researchers found that more than 10% of people who worked on pig farms tested positive for the virus between 2016-2018. Chinese scientists are now pleading for authorities to "urgently implement" measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

Dr Dre’s marriage to Nicole Young crashes after 24 years
With that, it seems safe to say that this could become one of the most expensive divorces in hip hop history. Along with filing for divorce, Nicole Young is looking to receive spousal support.

Wirecard UK unlocks cash for customers
Wirecard in the United Kingdom has been obliged to hold customer funds separately from its own money under Britain's customer safeguarding rules.

India bans TikTok, other Chinese apps amid border standoff
Opening up on how it could be a temporary thing, she added, "As far as I know, there was a temporary ban in TikTok earlier". Now, the government has reportedly taken an official decision to ban a total of 59 Chinese apps in the country.

Coronavirus: US officials warn 'this is just the beginning'
Responding to people's resistance to wearing masks, Fauci said it was "a recipe for disaster" and said some states had reopened too quickly.

Other news