In a 5-4 decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively endorsed a Montana law that allowed public money to flow to religious private schools. As summarized by NPR:
The case began in 2015 when the Montana Legislature passed a bill providing a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for individuals who donate to organizations that provide scholarship money to students in private schools. An organization called Big Sky began raising money to fund these scholarships, using the tax credit as an incentive. Of the 13 schools that got scholarship money from Big Sky, 12 were religious schools. Indeed, 70% of all private schools in Montana are religiously affiliated.
Ultimately, the Montana Supreme Court struck down the entire tax credit program for all private schools, religious and nonreligious alike. It said the tax credit conflicted with the state constitution, which bars all state aid for religious education, whether direct or indirect, including tax subsidies like this one.
Arkansas has a program that allows state money to support religious school education for foster children and children with disabilities.
The Arkansas Constitution has a clause that says no citizen shall be compelled to support a place of worship or ministry, but a federal court has ruled this doesn’t prevent spending state money on scholarships to religious colleges.
The Supreme Court, as it has grown more conservative, has grown more likely to favor religion in its rulings. Today was a clear conservative v. liberal court split, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the usual suspects.
Said the Center for American Progress:
The Supreme Court should not force taxpayers to subsidize religious school education, directly or indirectly. Today’s ruling erodes the constitutional separation of church and state that has long prevented government from funding the exercise of religion. This is a clear violation of the religious freedom of all taxpayers, who may now be compelled to support religious schools within traditions they do not follow. Today’s ruling underscores yet another reason why public funds must be used for public schools.