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Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Voucher Program E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Tuesday, 26 March 2013
The Indiana Supreme Court today rejected arguments that the state's school voucher program violates provisions in the state constitution prohibiting the state from supporting, or compelling individuals to support, a religious institution. While Article 1, Section 6 provides: "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any theological or religious institution," the Court held that only direct benefits violate that rule, and that school vouchers are not direct benefits.

We hold today that the proper test for examining whether a government expenditure violates Article 1, Section 6, is not whether a religious or theological institution substantially benefits from the expenditure, but whether the expenditure directly benefits such an institution.

Section 6 prohibits government expenditures that directly benefit any religious or theological institution. Ancillary indirect benefits to such institutions do not render improper those government expenditures that are otherwise permissible.
The plaintiffs respond that the notion that the "State is simply giving away tax revenues to citizens who are free to make their own decisions about how to use those funds" is a "pretense" and "grossly misleading." They contend that the parents of program-eligible
students "have no discretion" because the funds may only be used for tuition at program-eligible schools. But the schools eligible under the program are not limited to religious schools. The parents are not limited to choosing religious schools. Nor are the parents required to participate in the voucher program, but may keep their children in a public or charter school. We find that the only direct beneficiaries of the school voucher program are the participating parents and their children, and not religious schools.

The Court also found that religiously affiliated primary and secondary schools are not religious institutions as defined by the provision. You can read the decision (pdf) here.

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