pencils_newWritten by Don Byrd

[UPDATE: 1/18/2017: The Florida Supreme Court declined to take up the challenge to the state’s tax scholarship program, leaving the voucher-like program in place.]

[UPDATE: 8/16/2016: A Florida appeals court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the lawsuit because plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the program.]

Lawyers for the state of Florida yesterday asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Florida Education Association (FEA) challenging the constitutionality of the state’s “scholarship” program. The program provides tax credits to offset the private school tuition costs of low income students. The FEA says the suit should be allowed to go to trial:

Ron Meyer, attorney for the FEA, said the case is worthy of going to trial to determine whether the program creates an unconstitutional, separate education system, while also illegally directing tax money to religious institutions.

Meyer said the law allows tax money to make a “detour.”

The New Hampshire Supreme Court, interpreting a similar “no aid to religion” provision in the state’s constitution, struck down a tax credit scholarship program in 2013. A First Amendment challenge to Arizona’s tax credit scholarship program was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit under federal law.