pencils_newWritten by Don Byrd

Via Religion Clause, the Alabama Supreme Court has upheld a tax credit “scholarship” program against charges that, among other problems, the vouchers unlawfully send taxpayer money to private religious schools.  The state’s constitution provides that “[n]o money raised for the support of the public schools shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian or denominational school.”

Plaintiffs argued that the tax credit law, which allows parents to be reimbursed for tuition costs incurred after transferring students out of “failing” public schools, violates that provision because the funds are being used to support religious schools. But in its ruling issued earlier this week, the Court rejected that position, arguing that the tax credits do not amount to an “appropriation.”

From the opinion:

[M]onetary contributions are made to scholarship-granting organizations by the taxpayer; those organizations, in turn, grant educational scholarships . . . The individual taxpayer then may claim a tax credit in an amount equal to the total contribution made to the scholarship-granting organization. Again, no money is set aside or specified from the public revenue or treasury . . . Thus, there is no appropriation . . .

Associated Press reports on the ruling here.