Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

Can the government deny privately donated scholarships to religious school students just because the donor receives a tax credit?

Amicus Briefs > Economic Liberty > Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

Update 6/30/2020, statement by PLF attorney, Ethan Blevins:

The Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza recognizes a fundamental truth: kids deserve equal access to educational benefits, regardless of which school they decide to attend. The Montana Department of Revenue cannot prohibit students from receiving privately funded scholarship funds just because they choose to attend a religious school. Today’s decision marks a major victory for school choice and equality under the law.


The most significant school choice case before the Supreme Court in decades involves Montana’s tax-credit scholarship program. Under the program, Montana students could receive scholarship assistance to attend the private school of their choice, and donors to the scholarship program were entitled to a small tax credit. But the Montana Department of Revenue passed a rule that students at religious schools could not receive scholarship help. The Supreme Court agreed to review the Montana Supreme Court’s decision upholding this discriminatory rule.

In our friend-of-the-court brief, PLF argues that the Court should hold that Montana’s discriminatory program violates the free exercise of religion and points out the many benefits of school choice programs like Montana’s. Research indicates that low-income and minority families yearn to get their children out of failing public schools, and school choice programs offer a way to make that possible.

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PLF regularly participates as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, in cases brought by others. This supplements our direct representation cases by providing judges with unique, strategic, and helpful arguments to consider when crafting their opinions in related cases

Espinoza v. MT Dept. of Revenue - PLF AC Merits Brieff

September 18, 2019 Download

What’s at stake?

  • Most private schools are religious, so if government agencies can withhold access to school choice programs because students want to go to religious schools, most school choice programs would be a dead letter.

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