Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and the fight for freedom of school choice
Ross Izzard of the Independence Institute joins Kim to discuss Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which is slated to be judged by the Supreme Court. The case—championed by the Institute of Justice and the Cato Institute—will have long-reaching consequnces for freedom of choice in education in the United States.
The Cato Institute offers a brief summary of the legal issue the Supreme Court must settle: “laine Amendments — adopted by many states starting in the late 1800s as an anti-Catholic measure — prevent states from using public funding for religious education. Thirty-seven states currently have the amendments, and some courts have interpreted them excluding religious options from state school-choice programs — that is, preventing access to otherwise publicly available benefits purely on the basis of religion. In other words, Blaine Amendments let some states practice religious discrimination.
Montana created a program where people who donated to private-school funding organizations received tax credits. The program both encouraged school choice and allowed people to spend their own money how they saw fit. However, the Montana Department of Revenue used the state’s Blaine Amendment to exclude those donors whose money found its way to religious private schools, and, at the same time, it allowed non-religious private-school donors to benefit. During the ensuing legal challenge, the Montana Supreme Court not only ruled against the religious families that challenged the discrimination, it struck down the entire program, meaning both religious and non-religious donors wouldn’t receive tax credits.”