The NH Democrat Party has invested a great deal of blood, treasure, and BS, selling the idea that private education scholarships that create tax credits can’t go to religious schools. But now what? The US Supreme Court, ruling in a Montana case today, has declared that unconstitutional.
Related: The Blaine Stain in New Hampshire
The Montana Legislature established a program that grants tax credits to those who donate to organizations that award scholarships for private school tuition. … the Montana Department of Revenue promulgated “Rule 1,” which prohibited families from using the scholarships at religious schools. …
Held: The application of the no-aid provision discriminated against religious schools and the families whose children attend or hope to attend them in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the Federal Constitution.
The Montana rule was crafted to address a provision in the Montana State Constitution.
The Free Exercise Clause “protects religious observers against unequal treatment” and against “laws that impose special disabilities on the basis of religious status.”
The issue is similar here in New Hampshire. The Sturm and Drang are fierce. The call to maintain a separation of church and state, which exists nowhere in any constitution, is the sirens call, and many a Democrat joyfully crash their “ship” on the rocks in its pursuit. The rank and file regularly spout off about the “diversion of taxpayer funds to religious and other schools through the use of vouchers or voucher workarounds.”
But it’s not the credits or the workarounds or even religion. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a NH Democrat who objects to billions funneled annually to religious groups who resettle refugees. And every other tax credit is worthwhile, just not education choice.
But they like to work the levers on NH’s State’s Blaine amendment as cover, which this decision has declared unconstitutional (at least in part).
The ruling also stated: “Drawing on ‘enduring American tradition,’ we have long recognized the rights of parents to direct ‘the religious upbringing’ of their children . . . . Many parents exercise that right by sending their children to religious schools, a choice protected by the Constitution.”
I asked Michelle Levell from Granite State Home Educators for a quick comment on the decision. She said, “This is a great victory for children. Education is not one-size-fits-all, and this decision recognizes families can utilize scholarships to access educational opportunities that fit their children best.”
I’m sure the Democrats are not happy. It leaves them one option. Dump a program that helps hundreds of low-income and minority kids around the state find schools that best fit their needs. Democrats have been trying to kill the Education Scholarship program for years. But kicking hundreds of minority kids off a program that gets them into schools that fit the needs of each student might not “sell” well given the current climate they have created.
Not that won’t choose ed monopoly Union power over most any other matter. But they appear to be stuck with this for the moment, which is good for parents and kids and education. To that point, I reached out the Jason Bedrick the director of Policy at Ed Choice for comment as well. He said,
This is a major victory for religious liberty and for families seeking to provide their children with an education in accordance with their religious tradition and values. This decision makes clear that no state may discriminate against families or schools solely on the basis of their religious character. The bigoted legacy of James Blaine is dead.
You can read a good deal more detail on this from Jason here.
All in all a good day for kids and parents. We’ll keep an eye open for new developments in the Granite State so, stay tuned.
Here is the Court’s Full Decision:ESPINOZA ET AL. v. MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF Revenue - Religious Schools