In 2015, the Montana legislature passed a law that provided residents with a tax credit when they donated to an organization that managed private education scholarships. Arizona and several other states have similar programs in place.
The $150 tax credit in Montana’s program would be available to the donor regardless of whether the scholarship was used at a private or religious school to provide an education.
Last year, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the tax credit could not be used if the donated money went to a religious education organization.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has joined the attorneys general of 17 other states in filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Montana ruling should be overturned.
"If this discriminatory ruling from the Montana Supreme Court is upheld, there will be far-reaching consequences that threaten school choice programs nationwide," Brnovich said in a news release. "We cannot let down families across the country that rely on these programs to provide quality education for their children."
The issue of public/private money has previously appeared in Arizona courtrooms. In a case argued before Arizona's Supreme Court, jurists ultimately ruled that the state's scholarship program could continue unfettered because “no money ever enters the state’s control as a result of this tax credit... [n]othing is deposited in the state treasury or other accounts under the management or possession of governmental agencies or public officials.”
Other states aligned with Arizona are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.