As North Carolina awaits the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the constitutionality of the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Program, courts around the country continue to affirm parental school choice programs.
Last week the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the state’s Alabama Accountability Act (AAA). The law allows low income students that are assigned to persistently low-performing schools to apply for scholarships to attend schools of their choosing. The scholarships are funded by individuals or corporations. Donors can receive tax credits for their contributions.
The Alabama Teachers Union challenged the legislation largely on grounds that it violated the State’s Blaine Amendment. The state’s Blaine Amendment which prohibits the government from providing financial assistance to religious schools or charitable institution not controlled by the state. Any decision to do so requires a two thirds majority of the state legislature.
As Cato Institute Policy Analyst Jason Bedrick noted in National Review Online, the Alabama Supreme Court thought otherwise:
While opponents of school choice have had some success with this argument against voucher laws, scholarship tax-credit laws have withstood such challenges every single time. As the Alabama supreme court ruled, a “tax credit to a parent or a corporation . . . cannot be construed as an ‘appropriation’.” The court cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in ACSTO v. Winn that when “taxpayers choose to contribute to [scholarship organizations], they spend their own money, not money the State has collected.” Private funds do not become government property until they “come into the tax collector’s hands.”
The Alabama court victory is certainly encouraging. We can only hope that Justices in North Carolina and elsewhere are watching.