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Podcast: Michael Avi Helfand on Religious Freedom, Education, and the Supreme Court

February 19, 2020 | By: Michael Avi Helfand

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Kendra Espinoza is a low-income single mother from Montana who applied for a tax-credit scholarship program—created by the state legislature in 2015—that would allow her to keep her daughters enrolled in a private Christian school. But soon after implementing the program, the state banned any of the scholarship funds from going to religious schools, thus excluding Espinoza and her family from receiving support.

The ensuing legal battle made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue last month. The case implicates the religion clauses of the First Amendment, the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and the notorious “Blaine Amendments” adopted by many states during the heyday of anti-Catholic bigotry in America.

In this episode, Professor Michael Avi Helfand of Pepperdine University joins special guest host and Tikvah Senior Director Harry Ballan for a discussion of this important religious-liberty case. You’ll hear these two brilliant lawyers examine the knotty legal doctrines at issue, how the current’s justices are likely to rule, and why Espinoza should matter to every American citizen.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble as well as “Ulterior” by Swan Production.

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More about: Religious Liberty and the Jews  • The American Jewish Experience  • Tikvah Podcasts