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Washington CNN  — 

In a ruling that will open the door to more public funding for religious education, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of parents in Montana seeking to use a state scholarship program to send their children to religious schools.

The court said that a Montana tax credit program that directed money to private schools could not exclude religious schools.

The 5-4 ruling was penned by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court’s four conservative justices.

“A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

Tuesday’s opinion is a huge win for supporters of school choice programs, a hallmark of the Trump administration, and it will also encourage other states to push for similar programs.

The ruling comes as the supporters of religious liberty, including the Trump administration, have hoped the court’s solidified conservative majority would emphasize that the Constitution’s Free Exercise clause requires neutrality toward religion. Three low-income mothers had sought to use the funds from a state initiative toward their kids’ religious education.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called the ruling a “historic victory for America’s students and all those who believe in fundamental fairness and freedom.”

Roberts’ opinion on Tuesday reflects his traditional conservative instincts on religious dilemmas and breaks his recent pattern of his joining the court’s four liberals – all of whom dissented on Tuesday – on social policy issues.

It builds on Roberts’ prior decisions permitting greater government involvement with religion under the First Amendment, which says government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Roberts emphasized in the Montana case that, “We have repeatedly held that the Establishment Clause is not offended when religious observers and organizations benefit from n