Washington D.C., Jun 30, 2020 / 08:10 am
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Montana state constitution's bar on public funding of religious institutions violates the First Amendment.
The U.S. constitution "condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion of the court in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Religious schools must have coequal access to public aid programs with secular private schools, Roberts wrote.
In the Court's 5-4 decision, Roberts was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. Dissenting were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.
At issue was a state scholarship program, created by the legislature in 2015, and funded by donors who could claim tax credits. The Montana revenue department said that scholarships in the program could only be applied to non-religious schools because of a no-aid clause in the state's constitution.