The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Its opinions make law for all courts across the country. Thousands of cases are brought to the Supreme Court each year, but only a small number are accepted for review and decided. Each year, a few of these have an effect on school districts. Below is a summary of those cases and their impact.
Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn (2011). Arizona enacted a tuition tax credit program that permits individuals to receive tax credits for donations to “school tuition organizations” that give scholarships for students to attend private (mainly religious) schools. The program diverts millions of tax dollars that would go to public schools. A group of taxpayers challenged the program, arguing that it was a violation of the First Amendment, Establishment Clause. The Supreme Court did not answer the question involving the separation of church and state. Instead, it said that the taxpayers did not have the right to raise the question in court since the program involved a tax credit rather than an outright tax expenditure. In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan noted that this ruling provided a model for how to insulate programs from judicial review.
Impact: This tax credit policy will continue. Many other states have similar programs, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.