Supreme Court strikes down Montana ban prohibiting state aid to church schools

SCOTUS says Montana program must be open to religious schools

Last Updated:
June 30, 2020 - 12:05pm

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down a constitutional provision in Montana that banned state aid from going to parochial schools. The court ruled that states cannot disqualify religious schools from benefiting from the same programs that benefit private secular schools. 

The program in question started in 2015 and provided up to $150 in tax credits for donations to scholarship funds that assist students attending private schools. State tax authorities decided that donations to religious schools didn't qualify for the credit. Montana's Supreme Court then struck down the entire program, citing a state constitutional ban on aid to sectarian schools. 

Challengers to the ruling argued to SCOTUS that the state's constitutional ban finds its origins in a 19th century bias against Catholics and their private religious schools, and that the state constitution therefore contradicted the federal Constitution by discriminating against church-affiliated schools.

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