School Choice in the Courts

Published October 1, 1998

Although state legislators have approved a variety of parental choice programs across the nation, the first stop for all new measures is not a practical test in the classroom, but a legal challenge in the courtroom, where voucher opponents seek to stymie choice programs. Voucher advocates, too, are beginning to use the courts for relief from what they view as discrimination against religion in longer-established choice programs.


A law that gives tax credits for donations to scholarship funds is awaiting a state supreme court decision on a First Amendment challenge to the use of such scholarships at religious schools.


The American Center for Law and Justice will appeal the August decision of US District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby upholding a state law that excludes religious schools from participation in the state’s “tuitioning” program. The law had been challenged as a violation of the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.


On September 28, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the Cleveland voucher program–which includes religious schools in its range of choices–violates the separation of church and state.


A lower court is reviewing charges that the Southeast Delco school board did not have the authority to approve a local voucher program, and that the program’s transfer of tax dollars to religious schools is unconstitutional.


The state supreme court will rule soon on whether the state’s exclusion of religious schools from Vermont’s tuitioning program is a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause.