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Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

Description:  The Montana Department of Revenue wishes to shut down the state’s tuition tax credit program for private schools, citing Montana’s Blaine Amendment, because the program allows taxpayers to use the tax credit for both religious and nonreligious school tuition.

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2020
The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to uphold Montana’s tuition tax credit program in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue:

“The Supreme Court was right to rule that states can’t oust parents and children from neutral benefit programs simply because they choose a religious private school. This is consistent with the court’s 2017 decision in the ADF case Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, which unequivocally reaffirmed that states can’t impose ‘special disabilities on the basis of religious views or religious status.’ The court was right to not allow the dead hand of 19th century anti-Catholic bigotry—which motivated the state constitutional provision at issue here—to put a stranglehold on educational resources desperately needed by parents and their children.”

Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the high court on behalf of the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization and Michigan’s Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School that urged it to reverse the Montana Supreme Court ruling which struck down the tuition tax credit program. ADF attorneys represented Trinity Lutheran Church in its win at the U.S. Supreme Court and also represented the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization in its 2011 win at the high court in defense of Arizona’s tuition tax credit program.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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Previous News Releases

Legal Documents

U.S. Supreme Court opinion: Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue
Friend-of-the-court brief in support of Espinoza: Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue
Friend-of-the-court brief in support of granting cert: Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

Related Resources

ABOUT John Bursch

John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom. Bursch has argued 12 U.S. Supreme Court cases and more than 30 state supreme court cases since 2011, and a recent study concluded that among all frequent Supreme Court advocates who did not work for the federal government, he had the 3rd highest success rate for persuading justices to adopt his legal position. Bursch served as solicitor general for the state of Michigan from 2011-2013. He has argued multiple Michigan Supreme Court cases in eight of the last ten terms and has successfully litigated hundreds of matters nationwide, including six with at least $1 billion at stake. As part of his private firm, Bursch Law PLLC, he has represented Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, top public officials, and industry associations in high-profile cases, primarily on appeal. He received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1997 from the University of Minnesota Law School and is admitted to practice in numerous federal district and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.