Arizona grants income tax credits for contributions made to school tuition organizations ("STOs"). STOs must use these donations for scholarships that allow students to attend private schools. This statutory scheme broadens the educational opportunities for thousands of students by enabling them to attend schools they would otherwise lack the means to attend. Although the Ninth Circuit acknowledged that increasing educational opportunities is a valid secular purpose for a legislative act, it found that the tax credit program nonetheless violates the Establishment Clause because many of the STOs — as it happens, a decreasing majority — provide scholarships for students to attend parochial schools. Cato, in a brief joined by four education reform groups, urges the Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit's decision because it was based on faulty reasoning: It equated the private and voluntary choices of individuals who donate to religious STOs with state sponsorship of religion. The lower court also made the dubious assertion that Arizona parents feel pressured to accept scholarships to religious schools, in spite of the fact that the share of STO scholarships available for use at secular schools is almost twice as large as the share of families actually choosing secular schools. Moreover, the tax credit scheme is indistinguishable from similar charitable tax deduction programs that the Court has previously held to pass constitutional muster. We urge the Court to reaffirm its longstanding jurisprudence — especially the 2002 school-choice case, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris — whereby instances of "genuine and independent choice" are insulated from Establishment Clause challenge. Far from being an impediment to parental freedom, the autonomy Arizona grants to taxpayers and STOs is ultimately essential to it.....
Please see full brief below for more information.
Firefox recommends the PDF Plugin for Mac OS X for viewing PDF documents in your browser.
We can also show you Legal Updates using the Google Viewer; however, you will need to be logged into Google Docs to view them.
Please choose one of the above to proceed!
LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.
Published In: Business Organization Updates, Constitutional Law Updates, Education Updates, Tax Updates
Reference Info:Appellate Brief | Federal, U.S. Supreme Court | United States
DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
© Cato Institute | Attorney Advertising