U.S. Supreme Court Finally Reads Constitution; Rules that Law Must Be Neutral on Religion, Not Exclude It

Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but with Chief Justice Roberts turning with the wind on the Supreme Court, there’s no way to know which way the court will lean on any given issue. Many people held their breath as the court considered the issue of school choice and religious programs. 

It was a 5-4 decision, but citing First Amendment rights, the court found that states cannot deny families the right to choose schools just because they have a religious affiliation, states must simply be neutral about them, not favoring one religious institution over another.

The case concerned a Montana program that allowed for donations to a fund that gave parents of low-income families and those with children with special needs to choose private schools that they felt were better alternatives than their local public school. Some parents chose religious schools, which led the Montana Supreme Court to strike down the entire program.

In its ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court said:

“A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious. Drawing on ‘enduring American tradition,’ we have long recognized the rights of parents to direct ‘the religious upbringing’ of their children. . . . Many parents exercise that right by sending their children to religious schools, a choice protected by the Constitution.”

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