This Week’s Guest: Michael Avi Helfand
Kendra Espinoza is a low-income single mother from Montana who applied for a tax-credit scholarship program (created by the Montana state legislature in 2015) that would allow her to keep her daughters enrolled in school. But soon after implementing the program, the state banned any of the scholarship funds from going to religious schools. Since the Espinoza girls were in a private Christian school, the family was cut from receiving support.
Espinoza sued, and the following legal battle made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which last month heard oral arguments in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. 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, Michael Avi Helfand, professor of law at Pepperdine University, joins Harry Ballan, special guest host and senior director at the Tikvah Fund, for a discussion of this important religious-liberty case. Listen as two legal authorities examine the knotty legal doctrines at issue, speculate how the court’s justices are likely to rule, and explain why Espinoza should matter to every American Jew and all American citizens.
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.
For more on the Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic, which appears roughly every Thursday, check out its inaugural post here.
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