LAUREL, MT—Today, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The ruling overturned a Montana Supreme Court decision and concluded an 11 year battle to bring school choice to the Treasure State. The decision was a huge victory, not just for Montana students and their parents, but for students in 37 other states that have similar religiously discriminatory language embedded in their state constitutions.
The effort to bring school choice to Montana began in 2009 with a Tax Credit Scholarship Bill written by the Montana Family Foundation. It took six years for the bill to pass, plus another five years for litigation.
Montana Family Foundation President, Jeff Laszloffy, applauded the decision saying “The Supreme Court today righted a 131 year old unconstitutional wrong that had its roots in anti-Catholic bias”. Laszloffy went on to say, “This decision was a huge victory for Montana kids and clears the way for Montana to join 42 other states that allow students the freedom to choose a school that fits them best.”
At issue was a Tax Credit Scholarship Bill that passed the 2015 legislature. The Montana Department of Revenue said the funds could be used by students to attend any school of their choice, except private religious schools. This is classic viewpoint discrimination and lawsuits were immediately filed.
We expect that, as a result of today’s decision, many more school choice bills will be introduced in the next session of the Montana legislature. When options in education become numerous, kids win, parents win and taxpayers win.