This Friday, the Montana Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a case with national implications involving tax law, education and religious schools.

UM Law Professor Pippa Browde said the question before the Court is whether the Montana Constitution prohibits tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations that could ultimately go toward religious schools.

“In 2015, the Montana Legislature passed a law to provide a $150 tax credit to donors supporting scholarships for private schools,” Browde began. “Article X, section 6 of the 1972 Montana Constitution contains a ‘no aid’ provision that prohibits ‘any direct or indirect appropriation or payment from any public fund or monies, or any grant of lands or other property for any sectarian purpose or to aid any church, school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other literary or scientific institution, controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination.’ The parents of these students from religious schools argued that this was impermissible by the Montana Department of Revenue and that the law is unlawful under the Montana Constitution.”

Browde and fellow UM Law Professor Anthony Johnston will provide opening statements before the oral arguments begin at 9:30 a.m.

The public is invited to attend, and the oral arguments will be streamed live through Missoula Community Access Television (MCAT).

Browde said the case has garnered national attention on the rights of religious schools to receive funding that would normally only be available to public schools.


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