[JURIST] The Indiana Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday upheld [opinion] the state’s school voucher program. The voucher program allows low- and middle-income families to apply public funds towards the cost of attending private schools. Opponents of the voucher program claim that money is diverted from public schools, but the court was not swayed by these arguments:
First, the voucher program expenditures do not directly benefit religious schools but rather directly benefit lower-income families with school-children by providing an opportunity for such children to attend non-public schools if desired. Second, the prohibition against government expenditures to benefit religious or theological institutions does not apply to institutions and programs providing primary and secondary education.
The court did not address the public policy merits of the program. While 9,000 students enrolled in the program this school year, the voucher program is available to children statewide, and a cap has yet to be placed on its potential size.
Indiana’s voucher program is the largest of several states that engage in similar programs, but some state programs have been struck down by courts. In 2008 an Arizona appeals court struck down the school voucher program [JURIST report]. In 2006 the Florida Supreme court also struck down the state’s voucher program [JURIST report]. In 2002 the US Supreme Court upheld a similar voucher program [opinion] in Ohio.