WASHINGTON — Today, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that states can be forced to fund religious education using taxpayer dollars.

Although the court has previously allowed states to offer school voucher programs in certain circumstances, it has also held that states may choose not to do so, consistent with the clear historical interest in avoiding taxpayer support for religious education. This case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, tested that principle by deciding whether the Montana Supreme Court could rely on the state constitution to strike down a scholarship program that would have diverted millions of government dollars to religious schooling. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed an amicus brief in the case.

The comments below are from the following:

Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief: “This decision undermines true religious freedom and is the latest in a disturbing line of Supreme Court cases attacking the very foundations of the separation of church and state. In the past, the court used to guard against government-funded religion. Today, the court has not only allowed, but actually required taxpayers to underwrite religious education.”

Alex Rate, legal director of the ACLU of Montana: “The Supreme Court’s ruling reverses a well-reasoned opinion by the Montana Supreme Court recognizing that the framers of Montana’s constitution were committed to ensuring that public education remains free from religious entanglement. Today’s decision ignores that commitment.”

More information on the case can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/espinoza-v-montana-department-revenue

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