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A Win For Religious Freedom

A Win For Religious Freedom
Image by Kjetil Ree

In what have been a series of decisions, the Supreme Court decided in favor of religious liberty today.  The case was on a Montana school program which gave student aid program, but excluded religious schools.  The focus was on freedom of religion, and the justices voted 5-4.

The case originated in the Montana Supreme Court with a 5-2 decision exempting religious schools from tax credits.  The court argued that in the Montana State Constitution, there is a “no-aid” provision which prohibited direct or indirect appropriation of tax-payer dollars to religious organizations.  This was then challenged by parents of students who attended religious school, who countered that the ruling went against their First Amendment rights.   

In a statement written for the majority vote, Chief Justice Roberts said that a state does not need to give money to private education, but if it does, it has to include religious schools.

Why this matters: This specific case is an example of federalism.   The Bill of Rights traverses throughout the nation, and may take precedent over states’ specific laws and constitutions. It is an example of when federal law outweighs state law, and is often a fragile balance between the two.

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