Amicus Brief: Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

The Liberty Justice Center has partnered with the nation’s foremost advocacy organization for school choice — the American Federation for Children (AFC) — to file a joint amicus brief supporting three Montana families in their appeal for equal treatment in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling barring students using state-supported scholarships from enrolling in religious schools.

The case focuses on the meaning of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, a part of the First Amendment that requires that government not treat religious people and institutions unfairly. The brief argues that the Establishment Clause and school choice both serve to protect families of minority religious faiths from community pressure to give up their beliefs and conform.

For many families from minority religions, school choice is essential. For some, it spares their children from the ugliness of the bullying and harassment they experience at school for wearing different clothes, having unusual hair styles, or holding unfamiliar beliefs. For other families, school choice opens a safe harbor that reinforces their values and beliefs rather than undermining them. The brief tells the stories of schools and parents from Jewish, Muslim, and Pentecostal traditions who experienced the transformative power of school choice. But for all these families, school choice only works when courts enforce their First Amendment right not to experience discrimination against faith at the hands of the government.

Background

The plaintiffs in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue are represented by the Institute for Justice. The Supreme Court agreed to take the Espinoza case on June 28, 2019. Oral argument before the Court is expected early in 2020.

Our Team

Brian Kelsey, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center is available to speak about LJC’s joint amicus brief with the American Federation for Children. For more information, or to schedule an interview with Brian about this brief, contact Kristen Williamson by calling 773-809-4403 or by sending an email to media@libertyjusticecenter.org.