The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a ban on taxpayer dollars being used to fund religious schools, in a significant win for the school choice movement.
The 5-4 ruling was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, who, the previous day, parted ways with the high court's conservatives and joined the court's liberals in striking down abortion restrictions.
In Tuesday's ruling, the court struck down a Montana constitutional provision banning state aid to religious schools, deciding that states cannot exclude religious institutions from programs benefiting secular private schools.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The program began in 2015 and provided up to $150 in tax credits for donations to scholarship funds that helped students attend private schools. State tax authorities determined that donations to religious schools didn't qualify. Then Montana's Supreme Court, citing a state constitutional ban on state aid to sectarian schools, struck down the whole program.
Some parents who sought to send their children to Stillwater Christian School in Kalispell, Mont., said they couldn't afford the tuition without the program, and otherwise would have to rely on public schools.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the court:
Montana's no-aid provision 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. This is apparent from the plain text. The provision bars aid to any school "controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination." The provision's title—"Aid prohibited to sectarian schools"—confirms that the provision singles out schools based on their religious character.