In a huge victory for taxpayers and public school children, the Montana Supreme Court today ruled that it is unconstitutional for Montana's Tax Credit Program to fund private, religious schools.

In response to today’s opinion, the following statement is by Alex Rate, ACLU of Montana Legal Director.

“Today’s ruling by the Montana Supreme Court is a victory for Montana’s taxpayers and public school children. Montana’s students and parents have the right to choose a religious education, but it is unconstitutional for taxpayers to foot the bill for private, religious schools.  

The Court could not have been clearer: “The Legislature’s enactment of the Tax Credit Program is facially unconstitutional and violates Montana’s constitutional guarantee to all Montanans that their government will not use state funds to aid religious schools. This basic notion of separation of church and state is a foundation of our Nation’s federal Constitution, but is more fiercely protected by Montanans through the broader prohibitions contained in Article X, Section 6.” 

The Supreme Court’s ruling reinforces the idea that public money belongs in public schools and should not be funneled away to fund private, religious education. The framers of Montana’s constitution recognized and incorporated a strong commitment to maintaining public education and ensuring that public education remains free from religious entanglement.”

Earlier this year, the ACLU of Montana filed an amicus brief in support of the defendant, the Department of Revenue.  

photo credit: ACLU