The Supreme Court has expressed that it will likely rule in favor of allowing religious schools to receive public funding from the state coffers.
According to NBC News, the court's conservative appointees indicated that they would consider loosening restrictions on the separation between church and state in order to allow faith-based schools to receive taxpayer dollars.
The case surrounds a Montana program that provides tax credits for individuals who donate money to organizations that offer cash scholarships to students. When an organization called “Blue Sky” identified the program as an incentive-led way for educational institutions to raise money, several religious schools also signed up to the initiative.
However, soon after the program launched, the state passed a constitutional amendment that prevented taxpayer aid from being directed to religious institutions, citing a portion of the Montana constitution which prohibits "any direct or indirect appropriation or payment ... to aid any church, school ... controlled in whole or in part by any church."
The Montana Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the scholarship program was in violation of the state constitution and struck down the law completely, meaning that neither secular nor religious schools could benefit.
Now, the Supreme Court justices are questioning the state-level decision to ensure that it doesn’t discriminate. "What if the state said you can use scholarship funds for private schools, but not for Jewish or Protestant schools? Wouldn't that be discrimination?" asked Justice Brett Kavanaugh at Wednesday’s courtroom argument.
Though the decision is likely to go the way of Montana being required to include religious schools in the program, there is still a possibility that Chief Justice John Roberts will dissent. In court, Roberts hinted that the parents who brought the original case might not have attained the correct legal standing to do so.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Brian P. Irwin
Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.