SCOTUS Says Tax Credits For School Vouchers Constitutional
Good news for school choice fans!
The decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by the court’s more conservative members, preserves Arizona’s school voucher program that is funded by tax credits offered to state taxpayers. Most of the students who use the voucher money attend parochial schools.
Opponents of the Arizona system filed a lawsuit claiming the $500 tax credit violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause that prohibits the government-backed endorsement of religion. The high court in 1968 said taxpayers could bypass the prohibition against lawsuits if they lodge an Establishment Clause claim.
But on Monday the court ruled that taxpayers could not sue based on a generalized First Amendment complaint but rather need to show specific individual harm to get into a courtroom. “The [Arizona] tax credit is not tantamount to a religious tax or to a tithe and does not visit the injury identified in ,” Kennedy wrote.
The distinction between a tax credit and an actual tax or appropriation from general income tax revenues was a key factor in the case, with Kennedy writing that “awarding some citizens a tax credit allows other citizens to retain control over their own funds in accordance with their own consciences.”
Cato has a good explanation:
As Andrew Coulson explained in detail earlier, the Court ruled that education tax credits are not government funds, and the plaintiffs therefore have no standing to bring suit in the first place. They were not harmed because none of their money was collected and then disburse by the state.
Sorry, public education unions, you lose again.