On Tuesday, the Supreme Court weakened the separation of church and state with their ruling in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue.
The case, decided 5-4 along ideological lines with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the opinion, holds that Montana cannot exclude religious schools from a scholarship program funded with taxpayer money.
Here is the 5-4 opinion from Chief Justice Roberts in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue with separate dissents from Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor https://t.co/mvxH1g8i5v
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 30, 2020
The case stemmed from a law passed by the Montana legislature in 2015, allowing a $150 tax credit to individuals who donate to scholarship organizations. The law did not distinguish between secular and religious schools, but this contradicted a provision of the state constitution prohibiting taxpayer funding of any school “controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination.”
The Montana Supreme Court struck down the scholarship funding law based on this provision. A religious family then sued in federal court, arguing this violated the Free Exercise Clause. Roberts agreed, writing that the state court should not have struck down the program on the basis of a state constitutional requirement that he believed violated the federal Constitution.