Somehow I missed this important story when it happened last December. The Montana Supreme Court struck down a tuition tax credit program as a transparent effort to violate the state constitution’s prohibition of sending public funds to religious schools.  Other states have adopted such devious strategies to send public money to religious schools, despite their state constitution. Florida is a leader in ignoring its state constitution.

“The Montana Supreme Court delivered a win for church-state separation and public education last week when it struck down the state’s private school voucher program.

“Americans United, joined by other civil-rights organizations, had urged the court through a friend-of-the-court brief to prevent the voucher scheme – called a tuition tax credit program – from funding private, religious education. Our brief explained that the program violated the “no-aid” provision in Montana’s constitution, which protects residents’ religious freedom by ensuring taxpayer money isn’t used for religious purposes – including religious education.

“The Montana Supreme Court agreed with us: “We ultimately conclude the Tax Credit Program aids sectarian schools in violation of Article X, Section 6, and that it is unconstitutional in all of its applications,” wrote the court majority.

“Montana taxpayers should never be forced to fund religious education – that’s a fundamental violation of religious freedom,” said AU president and CEO Rachel Laser. “The Montana Supreme Court’s decision protects both church-state separation and public education. It’s a double win.”

“The state’s legislature passed the tuition tax credit program in 2015. It allows “donors” to give money to organizations that pay for students’ private school tuition, then the state gives the “donors” a full credit on their tax bills – so it’s not really a donation after all. This is essentially a voucher program because it funnels public money to private schools.”