Litigation Update: Another Victory for Choice in Illinois
IJ won another courtroom battle on the school choice front when a three-judge panel of the Appellate Court of Illinois for the Fifth Judicial District issued a unanimous ruling on April 3 upholding the constitutionality of the Illinois educational expenses tax credit. The decision rebuffed a challenge to the credit sponsored by the Illinois Federation of Teachers and was the second this year by an Illinois appellate court affirming the constitutionality of the tax credit. IJ is defending the constitutionality of the credit on behalf of 12 Illinois families.
Picking up on an argument that IJ has emphasized throughout the litigation, Justice Philip J. Rarick pointed out in the court’s opinion that “[t]he credit at issue here does not involve any appropriation or use of public funds.” Rather, it “allows Illinois parents to keep more of their own money to spend on the education of their children as they see fit.” In sustaining the constitutionality of the credit, Rarick also noted that the credit did not have the primary effect of advancing religion because it is “equally available to all parents of public or nonpublic school children” and “[f]unds become available to schools only as the result of private choices made by individual parents.”
As reported in our last edition of Liberty & Law, the Appellate Court of Illinois for the Fourth Judicial District issued a ruling in February throwing out a similar challenge to the credit mounted by the Illinois Education Association. The teachers’ unions in both cases are asking for Illinois Supreme Court review of this issue. Should that court decide to hear the case, IJ will be ready once again to head to the Land of Lincoln on behalf of Illinois parents and children.
“[This decision] allows Illinois parents to keep more of their own money to spend on the education of their children as they see fit.” —Justice Philip J. Rarick