July 1, 2020 — I'm pleased to report that the U.S. Supreme Court got one right yesterday, issuing a ruling that protects religious freedom and supports school choice!
In Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue, the Court held that Montana was wrong to apply the state constitution's 'no-aid' to religion clause to a state program that offered tuition assistance to parents who desire to send their children to private schools. The state had prohibited religious schools from participating in the program, which was and is a grave violation of the U.S. Constitution's free exercise clause.
This month, we've seen two awful Supreme Court decisions for people of faith, women, and any individual who cares about the constitutional separation of powers. In both those cases, Chief Justice Roberts failed to live up to his duty and our expectations. But here, he wrote a 5-4 majority opinion that gets it right.
The Chief Justice pointed to a 2017 case in which the Court reached the "'unremarkable' conclusion that disqualifying otherwise eligible recipients from a public benefit 'solely because of their religious character' imposes 'a penalty on the free exercise of religion.'" He concluded that people of faith and religious institutions are "'member[s] of the community too,' and their exclusion from the scholarship program here is 'odious to our Constitution' and 'cannot stand.'"
We should all be thankful for this strong ruling. Montana's no-aid clause is a relic of the 19th century, and a product of anti-Catholic bigotry. The First Amendment protects our God-given freedom to peacefully live consistent with our faith. Accordingly, the government should never treat people of faith like second-class citizens.
The last several months have been so difficult for this nation. The continuing coronavirus health crisis and related economic fallout, George Floyd's tragic murder and the resulting civil unrest, and the assault on fundamental freedoms have all pushed us to the brink. I'm grieved by so much of what I see occurring in this nation, but I refuse to give up hope. God is in control, and for this reason we continue to pray that He will bring a spiritual revival to our land.
In the meantime, we must not abandon the good fight! Just months from now, our country will face another momentous election. America is at a crossroads and Christians must prayerfully consider the paths before us. Now is not the time to shrink away…it is the time to stand strong!