AU Opposes Voucher-Like Scheme In Montana

Americans United and its allies are urging the Montana Supreme Court to rule that the state was right to stop taxpayer money from funding religious education through a tax-credit voucher scheme.

Joined by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Montana and the Anti-Defamation League, AU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue asking the state’s high court to reverse a trial court’s ruling that allows public money to fund a voucher-like tuition tax credit program that could end up subsidizing private religious education.

Montana’s Department of Revenue did not allow religi­ous schools to participate in the state’s tuition tax credit program because state officials wanted to honor Mon­tana’s constitution, which contains a clause that pro­tects freedom of conscience of Montana residents by en­suring that tax revenues can’t be diverted to fund religion.

Some residents objected and sued. AU and its allies argue that the state’s Department of Revenue was correct to exclude religious education from the program.

“Montana students and their parents certainly have a fundamental right to choose a religious education, but not at the state’s expense,” the brief reads. “Montana’s government is expressly barred from providing ‘direct or indirect’ aid for religious education.”