CFI, Council for Secular Humanism Join Amicus Brief on Religious School Subsidies

September 23, 2010

On September 22, 2010, the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism and nine additional organizations filed a joint amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn .  CFI, the Council and other amici argued that an Arizona program that provides state tax breaks for donations to private school scholarship programs is unconstitutional.

The joint amici urged the Supreme Court to find that Arizona’s funding of school tuition organizations that discriminate on the basis of religion when awarding scholarships violates the separation between church and state.  The joint amici argued that because the First Amendment prohibits government aid to religion, the Arizona program’s backdoor scheme to subsidize religious schools is unconstitutional.  The Arizona program is defended by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Religious Right legal activist organization.

Although the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found last year that the Arizona scheme violates the Establishment Clause, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld some state plans that provide parents public funding for use at private educational institutions. In 2002, the Supreme Court voted 5-to-4 to uphold a program under which school vouchers are used for religious and other private schools.  Several other states have also implemented tuition tax credit programs.

Click here to access an electronic (.pdf) version of the brief.