January 24, 2012

School Choice Week — Remembering Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization

By Joshua P. Thompson Senior Attorney

I hope you are celebrating School Choice Week.  In my first post in this series, I mentioned some of the great organizations that are out there every day fighting for choice in schools.  I encrouage you to take a look at their websites this week, as they are all doing some promotions for School Choice Week.  I especially liked Andrew Coulson’s post this morning, detailing the arguments made by the California public school monopolists advocates against a proposed voucher initiative. 

In today’s post, I wanted to highlight 2011’s greatest school choice victory, Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn. Last year the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision authorizing tax credits for private schools.  In holding that the plaintiffs did not have taxpayer standing to pursue their claim, the Supreme Court basically ensured that similar tax-credit schemes would not be challenged under the Establishment Clause.  PLF filed an amicus brief in the case, and I appeared on two separate podcasts discussing the case and its implications for the Federalist Society. Here’s what I wrote when the decision came down:

The Arizona Christian School case is rightly seen as a win for proponents of school choice. Tax credits schemes, like the one in Arizona, can no longer be challenged by taxpayers. Accordingly, so long as states do not favor a particular religion, or religion over non-religion, when creating individual tax credits, as the one in Arizona showed, school choice programs should be free from Establishment Clause suits.

In the coming days, I’ll be blogging about some of the exciting school choice lawsuits of 2012, but it’s worth rembering that Arizona Christian School made 2011 a banner year for school choice advocates.

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