Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn

This is a case before SCOTUS wherein Arizona distributes taxpayer funds for student scholarships to religious schools. Right wing organizations spin this as a “donation” but it’s simply a distribution of tax dollars.

The Obama Administration joined with Arizona in arguing that Arizona residents who oppose this funding do not have standing to bring the lawsuit. Arizona taxpayers don’t have standing in a case involving Arizona tax distribution? That’s absurd. Once again Obama disappoints.

Tax monies are used to support religious education indoctrination. This is nothing but a taxpayer subsidy for religious schools. Last year 91.5% of the $52 million collected, went to religious schools.

The Establishment Clause prohibits government aid to religion. Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the Arizona scheme violates the separation of church and state. From the Justices’ questioning during oral arguments, it looks like Justice Anthony Kennedy will be the deciding vote.

This is part of the right’s war on education. From kicking evolution out of the classroom to abolishing the Department of Education, the right wants to turn the electorate into a band of easily swayed ignoramuses. Considering the results of this past election, they’re succeeding.

If any of these funds were going towards scholarships for students attending Madrasahs, the right would have a total freak-out.

H/T: SCOTUSblog, ACLU, Breaking Legal News, AU.

-David Drumm (Nal)

34 thoughts on “Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn”

  1. A Madrasah is not a religious indoctrination centre; Madrasah is just the Arabic word for school. Secular madrasahs exist and this is no contradictino in terms.

    Seriously, look at the wikipedia page if you don’t believe me. The way madrasah is used in the English speaking world is, as far as I can tell, a creation of the right and is just one of the many bogeymen they use for political purposes.

  2. Dana,

    “Public education clearly isn’t getting the job done.”

    In some cases, sadly and unfortunately, it depends where one lives, as you probably know. I’ve had the good fortune to live in communities with very good public schools. If only they could all be of the same caliber.

    I have friends and relatives in other states, who have opted for private schools.

    It seems to me, but I’m certainly not an expert, that parents should have the right to choose, if the public schools aren’t making the grade, so to speak. No easy answers…

  3. I am a Southern Californian and mother of three. My children are grades 8, 9 and 11 and have attended private school every year since kindergarten, until this year. The 9th and 11th graders attend a private high school and the 8th grader is home schooling due to financial constraints. I pay my taxes ~ plenty of them. I am middle class and trying to do the best I can for my children. I truly wish the the public schools were better but they aren’t. In fact, they are some of the worst in the country. Why not let parents choose which schools are best for their kids. I believe we are failing the youth of our nation. I don’t believe future generations of Americans will be as creative or productive as those of the past. Public education clearly isn’t getting the job done.

  4. Someone will have to explain all those Catholic shcools in poor neighborhoods that parents are begging to allow their children to attend rather than the public schools that are drug and violence ridden and offer little in discipline or learning.

    Is that mainly for the money since it must be subsidized by other church income that supplements the tuition? And Catholic schools teach evolution which some other private schools do not.

    Communities have long paid for public busing to private schools and considered it a bargain compared to paying for all the extra buildings, teachers, and administration that would be involved in servicing all those children.

    This is not to condone those schools that are started only as a way to racially segregate, as is sometimes done.

    In this case the plaintiffs want the tax money to be a tax deduction rather than a tax credit with the explanation that they are free to use the money on any school or charity they choose if it is a deduction as opposed to the credit which can only go to a government approved tuition organization.

    In either case, it’s a reach to call it tax money being spent directly on religious education since it doesn’t go directly from the state to the institution. The fact that most of it goes to religious institutions is the part that might be questioned.

    If part or even none was spent on religious institutions, the principle would be the same – the taxpayer has no say on where the tuition will land and the government must give the tuition organization standing as a proper tax credit which may lead to unconstitutional choices as in this case.

  5. Gingerbaker,

    I attended parochial schools from grade 1 through grade 12. I was definitely indoctrinated!

    I’m a former public school teacher. I don’t know of any private or parochial schools in my area that accepts every child who applies for entrance. At my public school, we taught children with Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, dyslexia, severe emotional and behavioral issues–all children who lived in our district.

  6. Said the man with the strict Zeusian upbringing . . . an upbringing he managed to overcome to make the astute observation about private versus public education in re performance disparity. Well said, Ginger.

  7. “I take issue with the implication that religious schools by definition exist to indoctrinate and not to educate. The best high school in my area was a Catholic private school — it had AP courses and other advanced opportunities that were available nowhere else, and it was a plus for any college application. The process just to get accepted required a showing of excellent grades in middle school; they didn’t take just any goober who wanted their child to avoid the nasty heathen schools. (And yes, it taught evolution.)”

    Private schools have the luxury of accepting only the most talented kids from families already successful enough to afford the tuition. Unlike public schools who must take all comers. After such a filtering process, it would be a scandal if religious schools did not outscore public schools by a wide margin.

    Nevertheless, religious schools do all indoctrinate, and indeed, would not exist as such if they were not allowed to do so, would they?

    Lest we forget the Catholic adoption agencies, who refused to help place needy children into loving homes altogether, because they would have been forced to place a few with homosexual parents as well as heterosexual couples.

    It’s not about the kids, its about forcing religious morality onto society.

  8. mahtso,

    Thanks for the link.

    Let’s follow the money. When a student pays for school tuition and has a scholarship, where does the money come from? The student pays for tuition minus the scholarship amount. Who pays the amount of the scholarship to the school? An STO. Where did the STO get its money? From the state. Where does the state get its money? From taxpayers.

    If these monies were truly private, I would expect to cancelled personal checks written to the STO. I doubt that’s the case.

    The correctness of the Arizona Supreme Court’s determination is one of the issues that SCOTUS must decide.

  9. “This is a case before SCOTUS wherein Arizona distributes taxpayer funds for student scholarships to religious schools.”

    I believe the Professor is mistaken:

    Questions Presented in Arizona Christian School Tuition Org. v. Winn

    3. Given that the Arizona Supreme Court has authoritatively determined, under state law, that the money donated to tuition granting organizations under Arizona’s tax credit is private, not state, money, can the Respondents establish taxpayer standing to challenge the decisions of private taxpayers as to where they donate their private money?

  10. Bda,

    First, the repub. in the House don’t have the numbers and second … republicans attempted to distract the nation with their attacks on Clinton … they made him more popular through their efforts but more importantly, that long-running distraction resulted in the stunning success of 19 lone plotters on Sept. 11, 2001. A government distracted by on-going petty bickering leaves its citizens vulnerable to death and destruction.

  11. All my children and grandchildren attended/attend religious based/founded universities here in Ohio. From John Carroll (Catholic 1886) to Oberlin (Presbyterian/Congregational 1833) to Hiram (Disciples of Christ 1850) to Heidelberg (German Reformed Church (now United Church of Christ 1850), these schools all offer superb learning facilities and their well funded endowments provide, generally speaking, enough financial aid to keep the costs on the level of a state run university such as OU, OSU etc.

    However, during their public school ages, all attended Public Schools. Not because there weren’t private/religious schools in the area but because of the indoctrination factors that Nal addresses in his article.

    Tax dollars fund public education … period. If one wants their child indoctrinated into a religion through attendance at a religious grade, middle, or high school … one pays for it as a matter of free choice but one does not demand one’s neighbors contribute.

    Obama siding with the religious zealots and against the average tax payer should surprise no one. His UCC congregation in Chicago was pretty damn radical in the preachings it allowed from its pulpit and let’s remember the evangelical Christian minister, Rick Warren, and Obama’s inauguration.

    Constitutional lawyer, my foot.

  12. ShireNomad:

    I take issue with the implication that religious schools by definition exist to indoctrinate and not to educate.

    Many religious schools, especially those run by Jesuits, are partially dedicated to secular subject matter. But they also include religious education, which entails the development of the “spiritual.” Or, as I call it, woo.

    There’s only one way to teach woo, through instruction in dogma, aka indoctrination.

  13. Memo to White House: Lawyer up

    Veterans of the contentious battles of the Clinton administration warn that the Obama White House is entirely unprepared for the level of scrutiny it is about to experience. “They’ve already been complaining that they’re beleaguered by Congress,” said one veteran Democratic strategist. “I don’t think [White House aides] have the slightest idea what they’re facing.”

    Read more:

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