Supreme Court delivers a major victory for school choice advocates

Liberals and teacher’s unions are not happy with a recent decision by the Supreme Court.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that the justices of the Supreme Court this past week put forth a landmark decision that “strengthens the right of religious schools to obtain public funds.”

The Trump administration supports the decision, with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany saying, “The Trump administration believes that school choice is a civil rights issue, and that no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school.”

The case

In order to understand the Supreme Court’s decision, we have look back at a school choice program that the Montana legislature set up in 2015. Under the Big Sky Scholarships program, the state government would hand out tax credits for donations to nonprofit scholarships. Then, the organizations would grant scholarships to qualified families who wished to send their children to private schools.

A good portion of those private schools were religious schools, and not long after this program got going, a government agency decided that the families participating in this program should not be allowed to use these scholarship funds for religious private schools.

This, in turn, led three individuals who did wish to use the scholarship funds to send their children to religious schools to challenge the agency decision in court.

To the Supreme Court it went

The case made it up to Montana’s Supreme Court, and there the justices decided to simply strike down the entire school choice program. The plaintiffs, obviously not happy with this decision, appealed. And then the case eventually made its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court as Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue.

There, on Tuesday, the justices delivered a 5-4 decision holding that the state of Montana violated the Constitution’s First Amendment by not allowing the scholarship funds to be used for religious schools.

“A state need not subsidize private education,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts who authored the court’s majority opinion. “But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

The liberal members of the High Court disagreed with Tuesday’s ruling. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for example, thought it best to simply uphold the decision of Montana’s supreme court to simply scrap the program altogether. Then, she argued, you don’t have to worry about discriminating against religious schools.

The Supreme Court, led by Roberts, has been facing a lot of criticism recently from conservatives who have particularly taken aim at Roberts for recent decisions in which he sided with liberal members of the court. Here, though, there is a lot for conservatives and proponents of school choice to celebrate.

“This is a landmark case in education that will allow states across the country to enact educational choice programs that give parents maximum educational options,” Institute of Justice senior attorney Erica Smith said.

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