Another Victory for School Choice:

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · June 13, 2007

Arlington, Va.—In yet another victory for school choice in Arizona, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bethany Hicks today ruled that the state’s school choice programs for special needs and foster children are constitutional. The Institute for Justice and its Arizona Chapter represent six families who intervened in the case to defend the new scholarship programs.

“This is the fifth lawsuit that school choice opponents have filed against educational aid programs designed to help Arizona schoolchildren most in need, and it is the fifth time that courts have sided with kids,” said Tim Keller, executive director of the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter. “It is time for opponents of genuine education reform to get the message and stop these frivolous legal battles. All our clients want is a good education that meets their children’s unique needs.”

The Arizona Education Association, the ACLU Foundation of Arizona, and the People for the American Way, among other groups, filed suit against the programs in February, alleging they violate the state Constitution’s Blaine Amendments and its educational provisions. School choice opponents had asked the Arizona Supreme Court to take the case in November 2006, without it going to the trial and appellate courts, but the Supreme Court declined that request in January, forcing opponents to re-file in the Maricopa County Superior Court.

Relying on U.S. Supreme Court and Arizona Supreme Court precedent, including 1999’s Kotterman v. Killian case upholding Arizona’s first tax credit scholarships program, Judge Hicks rejected opponents’ claims that the new scholarship programs violate the state Constitution’s Blaine Amendments and its education guarantee.

“This is a complete vindication of vouchers in Arizona in the face of persistent and relentless legal attacks by those who prefer the educational status quo,” said Chip Mellor, IJ’s president and general counsel. “That yet another court rejected the favorite legal claims of school choice opponents should give heart to proponents of equal educational opportunity nationwide.”

IJ, the nation’s leading legal advocate for school choice, is currently defending Arizona’s corporate and individual tax credit scholarships and helped secure the Kotterman victory for school choice. The Institute also helped win a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court for school choice in Cleveland, and successfully defended vouchers in Milwaukee and tax credits in Illinois.