SCOTUS allows public money for religious schools

A major ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday narrowed the separation of church and state by endorsing Montana tax credits that helped pay for students to attend religious schools.

The decision now paves the way for more public funding of faith-based institutions.

The vote was a 5-4 decision with the conservative justices in the majority and the liberal justices dissenting with the court backing a Montana program that gave tax incentives for people to donate to a scholarship fund that provided money to Christian schools for student tuition expenses.

The ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, represented the court's latest expansion of religious liberties, a priority of its conservative majority in recent years.

The justices faulted the Montana Supreme Court for voiding a taxpayer program merely because it can be used to fund religious entities, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution's protection for the free exercise of religion.

Thirty-eight states have constitutional provisions like Montana's barring public aid to religious entities.

Opponents have said these provisions were the product of anti-Catholic bias and resulted in impermissible discrimination against religion.