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The religious schools of the United States will not be able to be excluded by the states from the public financing programs for private education, the Supreme Court decided Tuesday in a divided ruling.

In a 5-4 vote, which confirmed the conservative new majority resulting from the latest judges nominated by President Donald Trump, the court ruled in favor of a northern Montana state scholarship program that allows state tax credits for private education , in which almost all beneficiaries attend religious schools.

The Montana Supreme Court had rejected the scholarship program K-12 private education program, created by the State Legislature in 2015 so that donors are eligible to receive up to $ 150 in state tax credits.
The state court had ruled that the tax credit violated the Montana constitution’s ban on public schools financing religious schools.

However, the president of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, said that the state’s own decision violated religious freedom, incorporated in the Constitution, of parents who want scholarships to help pay for their children’s private education.
“A state does not need to subsidize private education. But once a state decides to do it, it cannot disqualify some private schools just because they are religious, “wrote Roberts, quoted by CNN.

In dissent, Judge Sonia Sotomayor described the ruling as “perverse”. “Without any need or power to do so, the court appears to require a state to reinstate a tax credit program that the Constitution did not require in the first place,” he argued.

Parents whose children attend religious schools were part of the claim before the highest court in the country to preserve the program, but It was the Trump government that filed the appeal with the Supreme Court.

The decision of the higher court defends the rights of families “to exercise their religion as they see fit”said Kendra Espinoza, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit whose two daughters attend Stillwater Christian School in Kalispell, Montana, bordering Canada.

Trump’s attorney general and attorney general, William Barr, hailed the ruling as “a major victory for religious freedom and religious equality in the United States.”

But the Montana Federation of Public Employees, which has more than 12,000 teachers and other school workers as union members, called the decision “a slap in the face” for its members and the communities in which they work.

Today’s decision violates Montana’s commitment to public education, our children, and our Constitution. The special interests of extremists are manipulating our tax code to rob Montana children of a quality education and at the same time protect the pockets of those who run exclusive and discriminatory private schools, ”denounced its president, Amanda Curtis.

The decision was the last in a line of Supreme Court decisions, which now includes Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who have favored discrimination claims based on religion.

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Trump threatens tax-exempt status of colleges, says many are about 'Radical Left Indoctrination'

US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020.Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Friday he is asking the Treasury Department to review the tax-exempt status of universities and school systems, suggesting in a tweet that too many were about "Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education." 

Trump also said he would have their funding revoked "if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues."

"Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!" he wrote. 

Trump's criticism of colleges and school systems follows the president's aggressive push this week to have schools fully reopen for in-person classes this fall despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Trump threatened to withhold federal funding for schools that do not open. 

The White House declined CNBC's request for further comment on Trump's tweets Friday. It is not clear whether Trump was specifically referring to private colleges and K-12 schools, or if his directive would also apply to public institutions. 

Most colleges and universities — both private and public — are registered as tax exempt, according to the Association of American Universities. 

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