The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments Nov. 21 over whether the state’s school voucher program is unconstitutional.
The plaintiffs – 12 Indiana residents including educators, clergy and parents of children in public and private schools – filed the lawsuit in July 2011 challenging the Choice Scholarship Program enacted last year. The program gives scholarships, commonly referred to as vouchers, to students whose families meet financial guidelines to attend public or private schools in other districts that charge transfer tuition.
Currently, the number of scholarships that can be awarded is capped, but next year, there will be no limits on the number that may be awarded. Once fully implemented, nearly 60 percent of all Indiana schoolchildren will be legally entitled to receive a scholarship upon application.
The plaintiffs claimed the law violates the General and Uniform System of Common Schools Clause of Article 8, Section 1 of the Indiana Constitution as well as Article 1, sections 4 and 6 because students can use the state-funded vouchers to attend religious schools.
Marion Superior Judge Michael Keele denied their request for a preliminary injunction and in January granted summary judgment for defendants Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana Superintendent Dr. Tony Bennett and two defendant intervenors, Heather Coffy and Monica Poindexter. Coffy and Poindexter are parents who want to use the voucher program to pay for part of their children’s tuition at private schools.
Numerous educational groups and schools have joined in the suit, including the Indiana School Boards Association, Evansville Christian School, Marian University and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The justices announced the November oral argument on Wednesday. The case is Teresa Meredith, et al. v. Mitch Daniels, et al., 49S00-1203-PL-172.