The Supreme Court has ruled that states may not exclude religious schools from programs that provide scholarships to students attending private schools.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion in the 5-to-4 ruling. The court’s four more liberal members dissented.
“A state need not subsidize private education,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”
The case involved a Montana program enacted in 2015 “to provide parental and student choice in education.” The program was financed by private contributions eligible for tax credits, and it provided scholarships to students in private schools.
Soon after the program started, a state agency said students attending religious schools were not eligible in light of a provision of the state’s Constitution that bars the use of government money for “any sectarian purpose or to aid any church, school, academy, seminary, college, university or other literary or scientific institution, controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect or denomination.”
Three mothers with children at Stillwater Christian School, in Kalispell, Mont., sued, saying that provision of the state Constitution violated the protections of religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Montana Supreme Court ruled against them, shutting down the entire program for all schools, religious or not.
“The exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the majority.
At the same time, writing for four justices, Chief Justice Roberts emphasized the narrowness of the court’s decision. “This case involves express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing,” he wrote. “We do not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination.”
SCOTUS Denies House Dems, Hands Trump Another Victory in Battle Against Fake Russia Probe
Democrats in the House of Representatives had their request to see previously unreleased documents from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into wither there was collaboration between Russia and the Trump administration denied Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Originally in 2019 the House Democrats requested the sealed documentations from the Mueller probe, which includes grand jury testimony, as they prepared for the impeachment hearings and proceedings against President Trump. The Democrats have suggested that the grand jury materials could reveal new misconduct that could potentially form the basis of new articles of impeachment.In March of this year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed with the the Democrat lead House Judiciary Committee and called for the release of the documents.
In response to the demand both the White House and the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to block access to the documentation.
In a brief to the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Noel Francisco alleged that the Democrat majority Congress had no need to see the documents since President Trump had already been impeached and acquitted. Francisco also noted that no indication had been provided by the House Judiciary Committee or the House of Representatives that another impeachment would be happening in the future.
The high court’s action will keep the documents out of congressional hands at least until the case is resolved, which is not likely to happen before 2021. The delay is a victory for President Trump, who also is mounting a court fight against congressional efforts to obtain his banking and other financial records. Those cases are expected to be decided in the coming days or weeks.
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