On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars


Did the U.S. Supreme Court OK spending tax money on Christian schools?

How does this decision affect students?

The U.S, Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an Arizona school voucher program. Critics say it violates the Constitution by directing taxpayer funds to religious schools.

So, what did the court actually approve?

In a 5-4 ruling, justices expanded several long-standing precedents that citizens don’t have the legal standing to challenge taxes they don’t like simply because they’re taxpayers.

What does that have to do with Christian schools? Does the decision pour billions in federal money into private academies nationwide?

No, justices refused to hear this particular challenge of the Arizona law. They said the people suing don’t have any stake in the matter. 

Not all the justices agreed — the vote was 5-4. In a strongly worded minority opinion, four justices maintained that since the case involved claims of a violation of religious freedoms, the Arizona plaintiffs didn’t need to demonstrate a specific personal injury.

However the majority decision, written on behalf of the five prevailing justices by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said the challenge could not proceed. They upheld existing law that requires a plaintiff to have a stake in any challenge. For example, just because you don’t like the color orange, you cannot sue the government for painting stripes on the highway orange – not without showing that you’ve suffered harm by the government having painted items orange.

Thus, whatever merits or unconstitutionality that might exist were not debated. The Court did not declare that vouchers are legal and should be instituted in every school district in America. Instead, they said the Arizona voucher law would remain unchallenged since its opponents couldn’t show they were harmed.

Arizona’s law allows parents to take a $500 credit on their state taxes if they send their child to a private school.

Opponents of the program filed suit, claiming such a tax credit violates the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from establishing any religion in the United States or prohibiting the free practice thereof.

Attorneys defending the program said the law only allows taxpayers to avoid paying $500 in state taxes if they spend $500 sending their own child to a private school. Thus, the plaintiffs had no interest in the matter – their money is not involved.‪‪

If there is a precedent set, it would be that opponents don’t get special treatment just because a First Amendment issue is in dispute.

CLICK HERE to read about the book publisher who has put a parental warning on the U.S. Constitution.



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o'hare

posted April 6, 2011 at 11:18 am


the 5 Justices who voted in favor of this matter was Team Roberts: the five male Catholics who sit on the Court.

Since religion is involved here, hardly an irrelevant fact!



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John Heckbert

posted April 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm


That’s not what the justices said. The question was whether parents could deduct up to $500 against their taxes if they sent their child to a PRIVATE school. I fail to see where religion is even mentioned. Would a Montessori school qualify as a private school? Would an Ivy League prep school qualify? Probably and while religion may be an element of a school’s specific program, it may not be the focus of the school.

Why should the religious affiliation of the Supreme Court justices even enter into your consideration of their decision?



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Webminotaur

posted April 6, 2011 at 9:49 pm


I agree with the majority vote. Just because a school is identified as “private” does not mean it has any religious affiliation. For example, the all-Negro schools. Also, even if religion is a factor, what religion? Christian schools are not the only ones involved. There are also Jewish schools. It won’t be long before there will also be Islamic schools. Would those opposing religious-based schools getting any special treatment dare risk offending the Islamics? I doubt it – their lives and property would be at stake.
Even now none of the anti-religious movements dare oppose Islam. They only oppose Christian and Jewish religions because they know they can get away with it. If the other religions took on a violence based reaction (which is against their basic principles), then they, too, would be afforded full freedom of expression.
Actually, all efforts to remove any religious references is actually trying to make atheism the national religion – which is a violation of what these people claim is the intent of the First Ammendment they flout.



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danny danon

posted April 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm


The Anti-Defamation League called the court’s decision “a significant setback for religious liberty in America.”

“The Supreme Court has dramatically undercut the ability of taxpayers to protect religion and government by intervening when government money is improperly spent,” Robert Sugarman and Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national chair and national director, respectively, said in a statement.



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