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Same arguments, different rulings

An Indiana judge refused to halt the state’s new voucher program, concluding that new statutory provisions guaranteeing publicly funded choice of even parochial schools are “religion-neutral” and “for the benefit” of students, not churches. It is a conclusion wholly different from one ruling issued Friday in Colorado, where a district judge weighed similar arguments challenging a Douglas County voucher plan and found that the same choice provided “no meaningful limitations on the use of taxpayer funds to support or promote religion.”

From Indiana Superior Court Judge Michael Keele:

The [scholarship program] is religion-neutral and was enacted ‘for the benefit’ of students, not religious institutions or activities … It permits taxpayer funds to be paid to religious schools only upon the private, individual choices of parents …

… [The plaintiffs] would thus threaten long-established, and apparently unquestioned, Indiana traditions of permitting tax dollars to be spent on religious education by way of private, individual choice.

From Colorado District Judge Michael A. Martinez on the Douglas County ruling:

Because the scholarship aid is available to students attending elementary and secondary institutions, and because the religious Private School Partners infuse religious tenets into their educational curriculum, any funds provided to the schools, even if strictly limited to the cost of education, will result in the impermissible aid to Private School Partners to further their missions of religious indoctrination to purportedly ‘pubic’ school students.

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BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit

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