Policy Documents

The Jury on School Vouchers

Richard D. Komer –
March 24, 2010

As advocates for school choice programs that empower families with children trapped in poorly performing public schools, team members at the Institute for Justice are often asked to review school choice legislation to ensure that it passes muster under the religion clauses found in both the federal and state constitutions. I have reviewed SB 2494 and conclude that it passes the test under both the federal Establishment Clause and the Illinois Constitution.

The Institute for Justice is a non-profit, public-interest law firm founded in 1991, in part to promote school choice programs as a means of equalizing opportunity for those children enrolled in poorly performing public schools. The firm assists in the designing of school choice programs and, if passed, helps the state defend them in court by intervening on behalf of those families using the scholarships or other benefits such programs provide. We have participated in the defense of every school choice program passed since our inception, including the scholarship case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in the upholding of Ohio’s Cleveland Scholarship Program in 2002 (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639). Zelman sets the standards that all school choice programs must meet to comply with the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

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