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Thursday, July 2, 2020

SCOTUS Okays Scholarships for Religious Schools

Edith Roberts at SCOTUSblog:
Court-watchers are focusing on Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, in which the court held on Tuesday that Montana’s exclusion of religious schools from a state-funded scholarship program for private schools violates the First Amendment. At Reason’s Volokh Conspiracy blog, Ilya Somin finds it “unfortunate” that the decision was “a close 5-4 ruling, split along ideological lines with the five conservative justices in the majority, and the four liberals all dissenting,” because “[s]triking down blatant government discrimination on the basis of religion should not be so controversial and divisive.” At National Review, Dan McLaughlin observes that “the case also likely marks a long-overdue death blow to openly anti-Catholic Blaine amendments adopted by many states in the 1870s and 1880s and defended by anti-religious progressives and public-school teachers’ unions to this day.” In an op-ed for The Washington Post (subscription required), Adam Laats argues that the historical analysis in Espinoza ignores “the basic provision enshrined long before the 1870s: American public education should use tax dollars to teach children how to read, write and become better citizens, not to teach them any religious ideas.”
At Dorf on Law, Michael Dorf questions the majority’s conclusion that the plaintiffs were treated unequally even though the Montana Supreme Court eliminated the scholarship program for everyone. At Take Care, Ira Lupu and Robert Tuttle warn that after Espinoza, “those who still believe that the Constitution precludes state involvement in promoting religious thought and experience have some work cut out for them.” Also at Take Care, Caroline Mala Corbin agrees that “Espinoza leaves us with a gluttonous Free Exercise Clause, and a starved Establishment Clause.” The editors of National Review point to “the real stakes in Espinoza: fear that parents will vote with their feet to choose religious schools over the public-school monopoly.” Additional commentary comes from Richard Garnett at the Federalist Society blog and Scott Cosenza at Liberty Nation.