SCOTUS Upholds Right Of Parents For School Choice

The Supreme Court stood up for taxpayers, parents, and choice

In a decision school choice advocates are cheering, the Supreme Court dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit against an Arizona school program, which allows residents to get a tax break for donations to organizations that grant scholarships to private schools.

Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the 5-4 majority opinion for the Court, saying that the ACLU and its clients did not have standing to challenge the private donations of others.

“When Arizona taxpayers choose to contribute to STOs [school tuition organization], they spend their own money, not money the State has collected from respondents or from other taxpayers,” Kennedy wrote. “[R]espondents and other Arizona taxpayers remain free to pay their own tax bills, without contributing to an STO. Respondents are likewise able to contribute to an STO of their choice, either reli­gious or secular… Respondents’ contrary position assumes that income should be treated as if it were government property even if it has not come into the tax collector’s hands. That premise finds no basis in standing jurisprudence.”

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) was thrilled to hear the decision.

“Parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children. This ruling empowers parents to do just that,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “Parents should decide what schools their children attend and where their money goes. The ACLU failed in its attempt to eliminate school choice for hundreds of thousands of students nationwide and also failed to demonstrate that it had any constitutional basis for its clients to file suit in the first place.”

Obviously, this decision annoyed the ACLU. Perhaps if someone had lied and said the money was going to Muslim schools teaching Sharia compliance and jihad, they would have ignored the case. And the liberals on the court were upset, whining about the establishment clause, worried that this would create some sort of national religion

For 13 years, Arizona has allowed a resident to send up to $500 of the money he owes the state in income taxes — $1,000 for a married couple — to a private “student tuition organization.” In other words, if a couple owed the state $2,000, they could send half the money to the state treasury and half to one of the tuition organizations.

So, this was a State program that was not establishing any religion, just a method for residents to send money to STO’s to help kids. Well, can’t have that! Only Government can edumacate yur chiltren. Just for clarity, though, the ruling did not determine the constitutionality, it said that the ACLU had no standing. Or, that is the Washington Post’s spin, when, in fact, SCOTUS did rule that it doesn’t violate the 1st Amendment, to some small degree.

Ken Klukowski at the Washington Examiner has an interesting take

This also has implications for Obamacare. Kennedy and the four conservative justices in the majority appear to believe that a citizen’s money is theirs, not the government’s, unless the state takes it through taxes.

But Kagan and the other liberal justices reject that reasoning as an insignificant distinction, which means government could claim ownership of money that has not yet been taxed. If there were true, it would be a government action when an individual donated to a religious school tuition organization.

If that sounds familiar, it should, because it goes to the heart of the fight over Obamacare’s individual mandate — is it the individual’s money or the government’s that would be used to pay for health care?

Which might be why Team Obama doesn’t want ObamaCare heard at the SCOTUS level, perhaps hoping that one of the Conservative judges retires, and O can replace him with a far left, outside the mainstream progressive.

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