Indiana Vouchers Constitutional, Federal Judge Rules

Published January 17, 2012

A federal judge has ruled the nation’s largest school voucher program constitutional, rejecting every legal claim brought against it, including the argument it represents state funding of religion. 

Judge Michael Keele ruled in Meredith v. Daniels that Indiana’s School Choice Scholarship program doesn’t unconstitutionally fund religion because it doesn’t directly fund parochial schools. Instead, it gives vouchers to parents, who then choose where to take them.

“Today’s ruling is a resounding win for Indiana parents and students, and a major defeat for school choice opponents,” said Bert Gall, an Institute for Justice attorney representing two voucher recipient families. “The court’s well-reasoned decision makes clear that the Choice Scholarship Program is constitutional and that the teachers’ unions’ lawsuit against it is meritless.”

Indiana State Teachers Association President Nate Schnellenberger said the opponents will appeal.

In August 2011, a judge refused to temporarily halt the program. Approximately 4,000 students are currently participating. 

“Thanks to today’s ruling, I and thousands of other parents across the state of Indiana can continue to choose schools for our children that best suit their educational needs,” said Heather Coffy, a defendant in the suit whose three children have received choice scholarships.

—Staff Reports