SCOTUS lowers wall between church and state with school ruling

Supreme Court Strengthens Right Of Religious Schools To Public Funding

The US Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Montana's exclusion of religious schools, including Jewish ones, from a state scholarship program violates the Constitution. The court backed a Montana program that gave tax incentives for people to donate to a scholarship fund that provided money to Christian schools for student tuition expenses. The state's tax authorities deemed religious schools ineligible to receive such donations. The state's revenue department made a rule banning those tax-credit scholarships from going to religious schools before the state's supreme court later struck down the entire program.

A Canadian Jewish advocacy group has successfully demanded the removal of a poster affixed to an advertising board in the.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion that said the state ruling violates the religious freedom of parents who want the scholarships to help pay for their children's private education.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Thursday morning visited a Pennsylvania school whose policies ban both transgender students and teachers in her annual "back to school" tour promoting taxpayer-funded private education, which she calls "education freedom".

In an opinion concurring with the majority, Justice Samuel Alito wrote: "Catholic and Jewish schools sprang up because the common schools were not neutral on matters of religion".

School choice advocates cheered the ruling, saying it validated parental rights to direct the education of children. He said the amendment was created to allow students at religious colleges to use state-funded scholarships - but he later said his amendment could apply to school vouchers. "The bigoted legacy of James Blaine is dead".

The court ruled in that case that churches and other religious entities can not be flatly denied public money even in states whose constitutions explicitly ban such funding.

The Orthodox Union, along with some other Jewish organizations, celebrated the ruling, while others, including the Religious Action Center of Religious Judaism (RAC), slammed it.

Supreme Court Strengthens Right Of Religious Schools To Public Funding

A trial judge enjoined the rule and then the Montana Supreme Court struck down the program by a 5-2 vote on December 12, 2018. "A state discriminating against religion is just as unconstitutional as a state promoting one particular religion".

"Today's SCOTUS ruling is a historic win for families who want SCHOOL CHOICE NOW!" "The no-aid provisions of the 19th century hardly evince a tradition that should inform our understanding of the Free Exercise Clause". The court declared that, unmodified by the Department of Revenue rule, the program ran afoul of the state's constitution, which contains a "no aid" provision preventing tax dollars from flowing to religious schools. The amendments prohibit the use of public money to support religious entities, including parochial schools.

"Today's decision violates Montana's commitment to public education, our children, and our constitution".

Another attorney who co-authored a brief supporting the plaintiffs, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty vice president and senior counsel Eric Baxter, predicted the ruling will not result in significant new funds flowing to religious schools.

"The Constitution ensures that religious Americans will not be discriminated against due to their faith".

Roberts said the no-aid provision "bars religious schools from public benefits exclusively because of the religious character of the schools". Montana's Blaine Amendment, which denied school choice funds for families that wanted to send their children to religious schools, was religious discrimination, pure and simple.

Describing it as "the right decision", Russell Moore - president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) - said the scholarships in Montana's program "were not a funding of religion, nor an entanglement of the state with the church".

Related:

Comments


Other news