NEWS RELEASE | For Immediate Release
June 30, 2020
Contact: Benita Dodd (404-256-4050)
Foundation Praises Supreme Court Ruling For Education Choice
Atlanta – The Georgia Public Policy Foundation celebrated today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Montana violated the U.S. Constitution by excluding religious schools from the state’s tax credit scholarship program that enabled students to attend private schools.
Kyle Wingfield, President and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, called the ruling “a validation of the right of parents to choose the best education option for their children.”
“This landmark decision reinforces what the Foundation has said all along: that ‘school choice’ should apply to all options. When a state tax credit program enhances choices, families should not face arbitrary restrictions based on archaic religious biases,” Wingfield said.
Three families filed suit against the Montana Department of Revenue after they were blocked from using tax credit scholarship funds to pay their children’s tuition at a Christian school; about 70% of the state’s private schools are religious. Montana’s state Supreme Court responded by ordering the entire program shut down. The ruling was challenged by the Institute for Justice on behalf of one family, and the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state court’s ruling.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the state court’s move had been “to the detriment of religious and non-religious schools alike.”
The Institute for Justice noted in a news release that “the Court held that barring religious options in school choice programs violates the First Amendment’s protections for religious liberty. School choice programs must be neutral regarding religion and allow families to choose the educational placement that works best for their families.”
Thirty-eight states have “Blaine amendments” in their constitutions, which prohibit state aid to religious institutions. The Institute for Justice said the ruling would most affect the 14 states that have strictly interpreted their state constitution Blaine Amendments to bar scholarships to children at religious schools.
“The campaign for education choice – for the money to follow the child – is far from over,” Wingfield said. “By putting a stop to this hurdle by critics of choice, however, the nation’s highest court has taken a giant stride toward enabling more families to choose the best possible education for their child.”
Read the Supreme Court opinion here.
Read the Institute for Justice news release here.
About the Georgia Public Policy Foundation: Established in 1991, the Foundation is a trusted, independent resource for voters and elected officials. The Foundation provides actionable solutions to real-life problems by bringing people together.