U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Tuition Tax Credits for Arizona Religious Schools

Liberty Alerts, Liberty Counsel

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona taxpayers can receive tax credits for their donations to provide scholarships at schools that are either religious or secular. The case is Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Kathleen M. Winn. This case involved a challenge to 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 students attending private schools. Liberty Counsel filed an Amicus Brief in this case.

Liberty Counsel represented the American Association of Christian Schools, which includes Arizona private schools directly affected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that struck down the educational choice law. While some of the independent organizations that receive money under the tax credit program give scholarships only to sectarian schools, other organizations offer scholarships to secular and religious private schools.

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 scholarships. The donor chooses which organization to support and can donate up to $500 per year to this program. The Plaintiffs complained that the program violated the Establishment Clause because voluntary donations to secular schools were lower than donations to religious ones so that religious schools were placed at an advantage.

The federal district court dismissed the case as requested by the state of Arizona and various tuition organizations, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the district court. The Supreme Court has now agreed with the federal district court that the case should be dismissed.

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.”

Used with permission of Liberty Counsel.