The Blaine Game

Posted on March 07, 2008 | Author: Arwynn Mattix
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On Monday, the Maricopa County Superior Court heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed last September against Arizona’s new scholarship program, the corporate tuition tax credit.  The program allows businesses to receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits for contributions to school tuition organizations that award private school scholarships to low- and middle-income students. 

Opponents claim the tax credit program violates the Arizona Constitution’s Blaine Amendment, which prohibits the legislature from appropriating public funds to support non-public schools and religious instruction.  But, like the individual tuition tax credit—which the Arizona Supreme Court upheld as constitutional in Kotterman v. Killian —the corporate tuition tax credit is directed by parents, not the state. 

According to press reports, the judge in the case said it appeared her hands were tied by the Kotterman decision, suggesting she may toss out the lawsuit.

"Opponents of school choice are asking the courts to unravel years of precedent and practice to halt a policy they don’t like. Their legal antics should not be allowed to block educational opportunities for families in need," says Tim Keller, executive director of the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter, one of the litigators representing parents and children in the case. 

Instead of using their political clout to put practical policy solutions that could fix Arizona’s education system on the table, public school related unions and associations are trying to stop to all progress. Let’s hope the court sees through this veil of thin legal logic. 

Arwynn Mattix is a policy analyst with the Goldwater Institute.

Key Links:

-Goldwater Institute: Constitutional Expert Calls Lawsuit "Borderline Frivolous"
- Judge leans toward rejecting challenge to Ariz. school tax credit
-Institute for Justice: SCHOOL CHOICE: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About State Constitutions’ Religion Clauses

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