The Supreme Court opened the door to a new form of state support for religious schools, upholding special tax credits in Arizona for those who give money to church schools and ruling that critics may not challenge such a plan as unconstitutional.

The 5-4 decision goes further than ever before to shield government subsidies for religion from being challenged in court.

In the past, the court has said that taxpayers can go to court and sue if a state or a federal agency violates the 1st Amendment ban on subsidizing “an establishment of religion.” Acting on such suits, courts struck down a series of state laws in recent decades that gave public money to parochial schools.

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