Education Choice At Risk

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San Francisco, CA – Liberty Counsel filed an Amicus Brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Kathleen M. Winn. The case involves parents that challenged an Arizona school choice law that provides dollar-for-dollar tax credits to taxpayers who make contributions to independent organizations, which in turn grant scholarships to attend private schools.

Liberty Counsel represents the American Association of Christian Schools, which includes Arizona private schools that will be directly affected by the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that stuck down the education choice law. While some of the independent organizations that receive money under the tax credit program give scholarships only to sectarian schools, other organizations within the program offer scholarships to private schools, which are both secular and religious.

The money coming to these organizations is from the voluntary donations of tax-paying citizens of Arizona, not from the government. Each organization within the program outlines which schools qualify for their scholarships. The donor chooses which organization to support and can donate up to $500/yr to this program, and 90 percent goes to help handicapped children. Plaintiffs complain that donations to secular schools are lower than donations to religious ones and, thus, secular schools and students are at a disadvantage through this program because they have less financial resources than religious schools and students through this program. Plaintiffs essentially are trying to argue that this tax credit establishes a state religion within Arizona.

The state of Arizona and various tuition organizations successfully had the case dismissed in the federal district court, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the district court, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Parents deserve the right to choose how to educate their children. This program gives parents the rights that everyone should enjoy. It is contrary to our history of liberty that parents should be forced to educate their children in government schools, particularly when some schools doom their children to failure. Parents know best about their children’s well-being and should be given every opportunity to provide a quality education of their choice.”

This article is excerpted from a Liberty Counsel press release.