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Montana parents petition US Supreme Court to allow tax credit for religious school scholarship

Wednesday, March 13, 2019  
Posted by: Joe Menden
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A group of Montana parents has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Montana Supreme Court decision invalidating a tax-credit program for donations for scholarships to religious schools.

The 2015 Montana Legislature approved the program allowing a $150 tax credit for donations to scholarships for students who want to attend a private school. A Montana Department of Revenue implemented rules preventing schools with religious ties to qualify for those scholarships, determining that would violate the Montana Constitution’s provisions prohibiting appropriation or payment of public funds to religious schools.

A group of parents with children who attended a private religious school challenged the department’s rule and was granted summary judgment in Flathead County District Court. The department appealed the ruling to the Montana Supreme Court, which reversed in a 5-2 decision in December.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing the parents, nearly 70 percent of Motnana’s private schools are religiously affiliated. The organization argues that excluding religious schools from the program violates First Amendment protections against religious discrimination.

“It is time for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and settle this issue once and for all,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Erica Smith.

Read the petition for certiorari the Institute for Justice filed on March 12 with the U.S. Supreme Court.