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Constitutional Law Keyed to Maggs
Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue
Citation:140 S.Ct. 2246 (2020)
In 2015, the Montana legislature sought to provide parental and student choice in education by enacting a scholarship program for students attending private schools. The program grants a tax credit of up to $150 to any taxpayer who donates to a participating student scholarship organization. Shortly after the scholarship program was created, the State promulgated Rule 1 which prohibited families from using scholarships at religious schools. Three mothers whose children attend Stillwater Christian School in northwestern Montana brought this suit. Stillwater is a private Christian school that serves students in prekindergarten through 12th grade, and petitioners chose the school in large part because it teaches the same Christian values that they teach at home. The child of one petitioner has already received scholarships from Big Sky, and the other petitioners’ children are ineligible for scholarships and planned to apply. While in effect, however, Rule 1 blocked petitioners from using scholarship funds for tuition at Stillwater. Petitioners sued the Department of Revenue in Montana state court challenging Rule 1.
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