The court has been moving to water down the separate line for education between private and religious schools…
This case involved a Montana funding law applied to private and religious schools that was challenged…
“A state need not subsidize private education,” Roberts wrote. “But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”
The court’s four most consistent conservatives joined his opinion, while the court’s four liberals dissented.
….Montana was called before a Supreme Court increasingly skeptical of such stark lines between church and state. A majority of justices in 2017 said Missouri could not ban a church school from requesting a grant from a state program that rehabilitated playgrounds. They have since been joined by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who has signaled other such restrictions deserve the court’s attention.
The challenge was brought by the libertarian law organization Institute for Justice on behalf of Kendra Espinoza, a single mother who sends her two children to a Christian school in Kalispell, Mt. The organization has made school choice a priority, and has strategized for years to get the Supreme Court to take on state constitutional amendments forbidding public aid to religious schools.
It has waged war on the “Blaine Amendments” that swept though the country in the 1800s on a wave of anti-Catholicism. Montana’s amendment was adopted in 1884, before the state was even admitted to the union.
The free-exercise clause of the First Amendment prohibits government from discriminating against religion, it says, including the parents who want to use the scholarship funds for schools that align with their faiths.
The Trump administration supported the plaintiffs, although it limited its arguments to the free-exercise clause.
Montana denied that its constitutional prohibition was about religious bigotry. It was included in a rewrite of the state constitution in 1972, and was meant both to insulate religion from government intrusion, and a desire to protect public schools, the state said….