Chief Justice John Roberts again jumped the aisle, siding with the Supreme Court’s conservatives in a landmark decision issued Tuesday, striking down a Montana law preventing taxpayer-funded scholarship money from going to the state’s religious schools.
Roberts authored the opinion in the court’s school choice case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, backing a Montana “tax-credit scholarship program” that gave families $150 in state tax credits if they chose to donate to a scholarship program to help other families afford to attend religious or private schools.
“The state’s revenue department made a rule banning those tax-credit scholarships from going to religious schools before the state’s supreme court later struck down the entire program,” Fox News reports.
“Under the program, a family receiving a scholarship originally could use it at any “qualified education provider,” which the court’s opinion noted means ‘any private school that meets certain accreditation, testing, and safety requirements,’” the outlet noted. “The Montana Department of Revenue, citing the state constitution, then changed the definition of ‘qualified education provider’ to exclude those ‘owned or controlled in whole or in part by any church, religious sect, or denomination.’ This was over the objection of the state attorney general.”
Roberts called the state’s decision to exempt donations to religious schools a “discrimination” in violation of the Constitution’s guarantees of Free Exercise.