Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Religious Liberty Case

Supreme Court building

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case was brought after the Montana Supreme Court struck down a tax credit scholarship program that could be used for children attending religiously-affiliated schools. 

The Montana Supreme Court ruling found that the tax credit program, which provided a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations to nonprofit student scholarship organizations, allowed the state to indirectly pay tuition at religiously-affiliated schools. Montana's constitution, like that of Missouri and 35 other states, contains a "Blaine Amendment" which prohibits direct and indirect aid to religious schools. 

Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, chairman  of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Catholic Education, issued a joint statement saying that the Espinoza case "concerns whether the Constitution offers states a license to discriminate against religion...Indeed religious persons and organizations should, like everyone else, be allowed to participate in government programs that are open to all." The bishops go on to point out that Blaine Amendments have their roots in anti-Catholic sentiment of the late 19th century. "[Blaine Amendments] were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion, but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church." 

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, which can be found hereThe full USCCB statement can be found on its website.

January 24, 2020 - 12:00pm

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