Supreme Court says Constitution protects Montana scholarship program that indirectly funds religious schools

Supreme Court says Constitution protects Montana scholarship program that indirectly funds religious schools

People wait in line outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, March 18, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Tuesday that a Montana scholarship program that indirectly provided state funds to religious schools is protected by the Constitution, weighing in on a high-profile dispute over the separation of church and state. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. He was joined by fellow conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The court's four Democratic appointees dissented. Roberts wrote that a decision by the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate a scholarship program on the basis that it would provide funding to religious schools in addition to secular schools "bars religious schools from public benefits solely because of the religious character of the schools." "The provision also bars parents who wish to send their children to a religious school from those same benefits, again solely because of the religious character of the school," Roberts wrote. The decision comes after a string of cases in which Roberts sided with the court's liberal wing on issues involving LGBT rights, immigration and abortion. The case concerned a scholarship program enacted in Montana in 2015, which provided individuals and businesses with up to $150 in tax credits to match donations to private, nonprofit scholarship organizations. Shortly after the program was enacted, the Montana Department of Revenue put in place a rule that barred scholarship recipients from using funds from the program to pay for religious schools. That rule was intended to comply ...
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