Supreme Court Strikes Blow for School Choice and Religious Liberty
Article from For Liberty by Norm Liberty.
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Montana Supreme Court ruling that barred parents from using scholarships funded through state tax credits to send their kids to religious schools.
The high court’s ruling is being hailed as a victory for both school choice and religious liberty. But as Oklahoma Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani writes, it was also a victory for clarity:
…[the] decision articulates an unmistakable rule of law: When the government creates a benefit program, it cannot seek to exclude persons and institutions of faith merely because they are religious.
At the root of the Montana court’s ruling is a so-called “Blaine Amendment” written into Montana’s constitution. These restrictions barring any state aid to religious schools are a 19th-century relic of anti-Catholic bigotry.
But they have been remarkably durable at the state level – at least until the Supreme Court’s ruling.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said:
The Court’s decision represents an important victory for religious liberty and religious equality in the United States. As the Court explained, religious people are “members of the community too,” and their exclusion from public programs because of their religion is “odious to our Constitution” and “cannot stand.”
The Institute for Justice, which argued the case before the Supreme Court, called it a landmark case:
“The Supreme Court delivered a major victory to parents who want to choose the best school for their children, including religious schools,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Erica Smith, who was co-counsel on the case. “This is a landmark case in education that will allow states across the country to enact educational choice programs that give parents maximum educational options.”
Image Credit: Joe Ravi [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons