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A major church and state case ignites ungodly amounts of debate at US Supreme Court

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21.01.2020

Few topics arouse the passions of Americans like god and government and whether the twain shall meet.

This was demonstrated by the many “friend of the court” briefs filed ahead of tomorrow’s hearing at the US Supreme Court, where the justices will consider arguments on a major case that could have implications for the separation of church and state.

A flurry of 44 filings—a number rivaled only by similarly contentious cases on inflammatory issues like gun rights, abortion, or immigration—urged the court to consider the cultural consequences of the matter. The justices’ decision will either hamper religious freedom or erode the precious barrier between church and state, depending on which side the brief writers support.

The case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, arises from a 2015 state tax credit program for private education and a dispute about applying the awards to religious schooling. After the program was enacted, Montana announced a rule barring the credits for use at nonsecular schools, an action that was challenged on constitutional grounds by three struggling mothers who benefited from the credits.

The named petitioner, Kendra Espinoza, is a single mother working two janitorial jobs. She sends her daughters to private religious schools because she likes the emphasis on Christian values, her Supreme Court brief explains. Last year Montana’s Supreme Court invalidated the student aid program as a result of her suit, finding the tax-credit scheme illegally allowed funds to be used at religious schools.

So now there’s no disparity to speak of, not between parents seeking tax-credits........

© Quartz