High court affirms religious access to state programs

High court affirms religious access to state programs

FILE - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg attends Georgetown Law's second annual Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture, October 30, 2019, in Washington. "Today's ruling endorses Agudah's longtime position that states may not bar families from using state aid at the school of their choice simply because they choose a religious option". Blaine Amendments - named after a US senator who introduced a similar federal amendment - exist in 37 states, according to the institute.

By a 5-4 vote with the conservatives in the majority, the justices upheld a Montana scholarship program that allows state tax credits for private schooling in which nearly all the recipients attend religious schools.

In 2015, the state legislature in Montana established a program that provides tax credits to people who give money to organizations that award scholarships to students at private schools. "It would offend my religious freedom to fund a school that requires belief that Jesus Christ is necessary for my salvation". "It opens the door to more public funding of religious education". In other cases, the Supreme Court has called secularism a religion, while it has also effectively required that taxpayer dollars captured for education go only to schools that impart secularism. It marks a significant potential advance for school choice, as almost half the country's parents wish they could send their children to private schools but only about one in ten do, due largely to their lack of control over public funds expended in their children's names. The result of such debate could be, of course, that some states (and localities?) might decide to establish religion in any number of ways - such as by permitting state funding of theological education or by allowing teacher-led prayer in the public schools. However, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, reasoning that it was important to consider how consumers view a name like Booking.com.

The high court also is weighing a Trump administration policy that would make it easier for employers to claim a religious or moral exemption and avoid paying for contraceptives for women covered by their health plans.

In addition, he wrote, "the Montana Supreme Court had no authority to invalidate the [tax credit] program on the basis of that provision". "We are glad the Supreme Court today stepped up to protect people of faith from discrimination and affirmed parental choice", concluded Johnson. In a spring poll conducted ahead of today's decision with results published in The New York Times, almost two-thirds of all USA adults surveyed responded that "states should not be allowed to ban the use of subsidized scholarships for religious schools".

The White House hailed the ruling as a victory for school choice and religious freedom. "Extremist special interests are manipulating our tax code to rob Montana children of quality education while padding the pockets of those who run exclusive, discriminatory private schools", union president Amanda Curtis said. The decision comes as surveys show support for President Donald Trump slipping among religious conservatives and could provide a needed buoy to his supporters as a Court he purported to stack with conservative jurists has delivered victories for liberals on abortion and LGBT rights in recent days.

"This decision represents a turning point in the sad and static history of American education, and it will spark a new beginning of education that focuses first on students and their needs", DeVos said. In Locke v. Davey (2004), the court decided that a student in the state of Washington could not use a state scholarship to pursue a devotional theology degree.

Ethan Blevins, an attorney with the Sacramento, California-based Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a public interest law firm that filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, praised the court decision.

Teachers' unions and leftwing civil liberties groups see the case as a serious threat to public education and religious neutrality in civic life.

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