The state of Washington established the Promise Scholarship Program to assist academically gifted students with postsecondary education expenses. However, students could not use the scholarship to pursue a degree in devotional theology. Joshua Davey, (plaintiff) discovered that he could not use his scholarship to pursue a pastoral ministries major at a private Christian college. Davey filed suit against Locke, the state official responsible for administering the Promise Scholarship Program, in federal district court on the grounds that Washington’s ban on the use of state scholarship funds for religious education violated his rights under the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause. The district court rejected his claim, but the court of appeals reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.