A Blow to Religious Schools, Montana Court Rejects Scholarship Tax-Credit Program
By Matt Volz
The Montana Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a state-run program that gives tax credits to people who donate to private-school scholarships, saying the program violates a constitutional ban against giving state aid to religious organizations.
The justices ruled 5-2 that the program giving tax credits of up to $150 for donations to organizations that give scholarships to private-school students amounts to indirect aid to schools controlled by churches. There is a ban in the Montana Constitution on any direct or indirect state aid to such schools, regardless of how large or small the amount is, the opinion by Justice Laurie McKinnon said.
“The Legislature’s enactment of the Tax Credit Program is facially unconstitutional and violates Montana’s constitutional guarantees to all Montanans that their government will not use state funds to aid religious schools,” McKinnon wrote.