Litigation Update

Bright Days for School Choice In Sunshine State

The Sunshine State is in our sights for the litigation battle over school choice:

In Holmes v. Bush, the Florida Supreme Court refused to review our victory in the Court of Appeals overturning a trial court decision striking down the Florida Opportunity Scholarship Program.  As the program enters its third year this fall, we will prepare for a  trial on the remaining legal issues.

For the second straight year, all Florida public schools stayed off the “F” list.  Kids with low test scores improved the most.

Florida passed a sweeping corporate tax credit for contributions to private scholarship funds, with possible benefits for thousands of kids.  A legal challenge is almost certain.

Thousands of children with disabilities will be able to use their share of public funds in private schools.

Florida continues to set the standard for private school choice—and IJ will be there to aggressively defend it.

Another Victory for Illinois School Choice

In yet another victory for Illinois families, the Supreme Court of Illinois in June refused to reconsider the ruling of the Fourth District Court of Appeals finding the Illinois educational expenses tax credit law is constitutional.  The ruling of the three-judge panel in February affirmed last April’s ruling by Judge Thomas Appleton of the Sangamon County Circuit Court also finding the tax credit to be fully constitutional.  The tax credit was under attack from the Illinois Education Association and other special-interest organizations opposed to education reform.

“This is the sixth consecutive court decision to have upheld the constitutionality of this form of school choice in Illinois,” said Institute for Justice President Chip Mellor. “Today’s Illinois Supreme Court decision should bring an end to the constitutional battle over the tax credit law and help parents get the best possible education for their children regardless of whether the school of their choice is public, private or parochial.”

The teachers’ union and its allies had argued that the law, which provides a credit against state income taxes for 25 percent of tuition, book fees or lab fees incurred by K-12 students at public or private schools up to a maximum of $500 per family, violated four provisions of the Illinois Constitution, two of which deal with establishment of religion.  Each of the courts to hear the case, however, has emphatically rejected these arguments.

The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision let stand a ruling by Appellate Court Judge Rita Garman stating that the tax credit does not violate the Illinois Constitution because no public money is spent at religious schools.  Rather, the tax credit allows Illinois parents to keep more of their own money to spend on the education of their children as they see fit.

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