June 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a case in which a Montana court ruled that religious schools can not participate in a tax credit program that reimbursed scholarship donations.
The law firm Institute for Justice argues excluding religious-based schools from the credit program violates the U.S. Constitution. The Montana Supreme Court has ruled the program illegal -- a decision that will now undergo a review by the nation's high court.
The 2015 law allows Montana residents to receive a tax credit up to $150 in public funds for donations to approved scholarship groups for private schools and specialized programs in public schools.
The institute said the state government enacted a rule that excluded religious-affiliated schools after the tax credit was passed. Then, it said, the Montana Supreme Court struck down the entire program.
The state Supreme Court cited the use of "indirect appropriations" in the state constitution that prohibits religious programs from receiving public money.
Montana resident Kendra Espinoza challenged the ruling because she wanted to use the tax credit to send her children to a Christian school.
"The Montana Supreme Court's ruling hurts every Montana child who is counting on these scholarships," she said. "For the benefit of families across the state, and the nation, we hope the U.S. Supreme Court restores this program to families that need it to ensure their children have access to a good, safe and meaningful education."
The U.S. Supreme Court decision will have national implications, as several other states also bar giving taxpayer money to religious institutions.