This week a Marion County Judge refused to issue an injunction to stop school vouchers in Indiana. There are over 2,200 Hoosier students already enrolled into the Choice Scholarship Program, which offers up to $4500 to pay for private school tuition at one of over 200 private schools that have chosen to take vouchers.
The program helps lower income families afford to choose other educational opportunities, including Christian schools. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union and the Indiana State Teachers Association backed a lawsuit attempting to stop the program before this new school year.
The opponents of the program claim that it is unconstitutional because it allows tax dollars to go to religious schools. The state argued that the money goes to the families first, as their money, in which they then choose a school.
One interesting item is that the state argued (among several other points) over Article 8, Section 1 of Indiana Constitution. It states:
“Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, (my emphasis added) intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall without charge, and equally open to all."
Attorney General Zoeller’s office successfully argued that the legislature was within its Constitutional guidelines because the choice program fell within the purpose of meeting those educational goals “by all suitable means.” Judge Michael Keele agreed, and refused to block the new law, saying the plaintiffs "failed to demonstrate any likelihood of success on the merits" of the case.
This is only round one in the battle. Expect the opponents to continue further legal action.