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Why Betsy DeVos Is Cheering the Supreme Court’s Church Playground Decision

Advocates for private-school vouchers cheered the Supreme Court’s 7-to-2 decision Monday that the state of Missouri could not deny a playground resurfacing grant to a church, calling the decision a first step toward an end to state bans on using public money to pay tuition at parochial schools.

“School choice is on a great footing, a better footing today than it was yesterday,” said Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which advocates for private-school voucher programs. “The court’s reasoning sends a strong signal that just as the court would not tolerate the exclusion of a church from a playground resurfacing program, it will not tolerate the exclusion of a child from a school-choice program solely because they want to use a scholarship at a religious school.”

Voucher opponents said they were disappointed by the court’s decision to allow public money to go to a religious facility, saying it chipped away at the separation of church and state. But they emphasized that the court’s majority opinion was narrowly written and does not broach questions about whether taxpayer dollars may be used for religious purposes such as religious education.