For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Contact: Cindy Dahlgren
A Statement from Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod, Esq.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed Americans a victory for religious and educational freedom this morning, effectively ruling states cannot discriminate against religious schools in scholarship programs in the case, Espinoza v Montana Department of Revenue.
Montana’s Supreme Court had struck down the state’s scholarship tax-credit program because some of the children receiving scholarships attended religious schools.
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld as constitutional a Montana law very similar to and based on Arizona’s scholarship tax credit programs. Like Arizona, Montana taxpayers would receive a tax credit for donations to organizations that award scholarships for students to attend private schools chosen by their parents.
The Court held that the Montana Supreme Court’s invalidation of the law violated the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That denying students the use of the scholarship to attend a religious school was discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children hope to attend them.
While more time is needed to analyze the opinion, state constitutional provisions like Arizona’s so-called “Blaine Amendment” that prohibit aid to sectarian schools appears to be no longer valid.
Specifically, Justice Roberts refers to the amicus briefs by several states, co-authored by Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich, writing “many states today – including those with no-aid provisions – provide support to religious schools through vouchers, scholarships, tax credits, and other measures.”