Courtroom interior_newWritten by Don Byrd

Next month, a trial court will hold a hearing to determine whether a lawsuit can go forward challenging Nevada’s sweeping new school voucher system. The recently enacted program – the broadest in the country – provides a voucher for any child across the state to use toward tuition at any private school, including religious schools.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last month contend Nevada’s vouchers violate provisions of the state’s constitution which prohibit using taxpayer money to aid religion. A somewhat similar provision in Colorado’s constitution was cited in striking down a voucher program there earlier this year. Officials in Nevada, however, are asking the judge to dismiss the suit because the they claim the bar on funds for religion does not apply to vouchers there.

Associated Press reports:

The attorney general’s office argues that the program doesn’t provide money directly to sectarian institutions but to parents, who can choose to use it at a religious school or elsewhere. The state also argues that giving money to all families except those who prefer a religious school would unfairly burden religious parents.

“This lawsuit asks our courts to twist Nevada’s Constitution in ways never imagined, much less intended, by our framers,” [Nevada Attorney General Adam] Laxalt said in a statement.

The Baptist Joint Committee for religious liberty has long opposed school voucher programs that use taxpayer money for religious education. The BJC filed an amicus brief with the Colorado Supreme Court opposing the voucher program the court ultimately ruled unconstitutional.

A hearing to consider the motion to dismiss has been set for November 25. Stay tuned.