Law & Courts

Arizona Voucher Programs Lose in State’s High Court

By Erik W. Robelen — March 30, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Arizona Supreme Court has struck down two specialized voucher programs, ruling that they violate the state constitution’s prohibition on providing state aid to private religious and secular schools.

As a result of the March 25 decision, the estimated 450 students in the two programs—one for students with disabilities and another for those living in foster care—will lose their state-funded scholarships at the end of the current academic year.

Supporters of the two voucher plans, enacted in 2006, argued that students and their parents were the true beneficiaries of the programs. But the five-member Arizona Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling in Cain v. Horne said the programs still violated constitutional restrictions.

“These programs transfer state funds directly from the state treasury to private schools,” Justice Michael D. Ryan wrote. “That the checks or warrants first pass through the hands of parents is immaterial.”

The state court of appeals overturned a trial judge last year and ruled in May that the programs were unconstitutional. A state Supreme Court justice let the programs continue during the current school year while the decision was pending at the high court.

The legal challenge was mounted by groups including the Arizona Education Association—an affiliate of the National Education Association—the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, and the Arizona School Boards Association.

“We thought the language of the Arizona Constitution was clear, and we thought that if the court applied that language, this would be the result,” said Donald M. Peters, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

But Timothy D. Keller, the executive director of the Arizona chapter of the Institute for Justice, and the lead attorney for the defendants, said, “the court got this one wrong on both the law and the facts.”

He said “this is not the end of the line for school choice in Arizona,” adding that families still might be able to receive aid through one of the state’s existing tax-credit-funded scholarship programs.

Mr. Keller also said he did not view the Arizona ruling as having significant implications for voucher battles in other states.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.
A version of this article appeared in the April 01, 2009 edition of Education Week as Arizona Voucher Programs Lose in State’s High Court

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Justice Dept. to Pay $127.5M to Parkland Massacre Victims' Families
Attorneys for 16 of the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland said they had reached a confidential monetary settlement.
Terry Spencer, Miami Herald
2 min read
In this Feb. 15, 2018, file photo, law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., following a deadly shooting at the school.
In this Feb. 15, 2018, file photo, law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., following a deadly shooting at the school.
Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo
Law & Courts Can Public Money Go to Religious Schools? A Divisive Supreme Court Case Awaits
The justices will weigh Maine's exclusion of religious schools from its "tuitioning" program for students from towns without high schools.
13 min read
The Carson family pictured outside Bangor Christian School in Bangor, Maine on Nov. 5, 2021.
Institute for Justice senior attorney Michael E. Bindas, left, accompanies Amy and David Carson who flank their daughter, Olivia, outside Bangor Christian Schools in Maine in early November. The Carsons are one of two families seeking to make religious schools eligible for Maine's tuition program for students from towns without high schools.
Linda Coan O’Kresik for Education Week
Law & Courts Students Expelled, Suspended for 'Slavery' Petition Sue District
The lawsuit claims the officials violated the students’ First Amendment, due process, and equal protection rights.
3 min read
Image of a gavel.
Marilyn Nieves/E+
Law & Courts Infowars' Alex Jones Ordered to Pay Damages to Sandy Hook Families in Defamation Lawsuits
The Sandy Hook families will have an opportunity to present to a jury the extent to which Alex Jones' hoax claims harmed them.
Zach Murdock, Hartford Courant
5 min read
Alex Jones speaks outside of the Dirksen Senate office building in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 5, 2018. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, April 5, 2021, declined to hear an appeal by the Infowars host and conspiracy theorist, who was fighting a Connecticut court sanction in a defamation lawsuit brought by relatives of some of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Alex Jones speaks outside of the Dirksen Senate office building in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 5, 2018.
Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo