Victory for School Choice in Indiana

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · August 16, 2011

Arlington, Va.—Today, in the case of Meredith v. Daniels, Marion County Superior Court Judge Michael Keele issued an order denying the teachers union’s attempt to block implementation of the Choice Scholarship Program in the upcoming school year. This means that the almost three-thousand students who have received Choice Scholarships will—without disruption—be able to attend the private schools their parents have selected.

In its decision, the Court found that the opponents of the program were unlikely to succeed on any of their three constitutional claims. Rejecting Plaintiffs’ claim that the Choice Scholarship is unconstitutional because religious schools may participate, the Court held that “the CSP is religion-neutral and was enacted ‘for the benefit’ of students, not religious institutions or activities.” The Court also recognized that the program “permits taxpayer funds to be paid to religious schools only upon the private, individual choices of parents.”

“This is a big victory for parents who are relying on the Choice Scholarship Program to give their children the quality education they deserve,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Bert Gall, who argued against the granting of a preliminary injunction at last Thursday morning’s hearing on the motion. “We’ve won round one, and we’ll continue fighting until we give this meritless lawsuit a knockout punch.” The Institute for Justice has intervened in the litigation on behalf of two parents with children who are attending private schools with the aid of Choice Scholarships.

IJ client and school choice mom Heather Coffy, whose three children have received Choice Scholarships, said, “I am thrilled with the court’s ruling, which will ensure that I and other parents all over Indiana will have true educational choice this school year.”

IJ Senior Attorney Dick Komer said, “The court got it exactly right: While the Choice Scholarship Program is inconsistent with the self-serving agenda of the teachers’ unions who are supporting this lawsuit, it is perfectly consistent with the state and federal constitutions.”
The Institute for Justice has a long history of successfully defending school choice from legal attacks. IJ represented intervening parents in the successful defense of:

  • Arizona’s Individual Scholarship Tax Credit Program, Ariz. Christian Sch. Tuition Org. v. Winn and Kotterman v. Killian;
  • Ohio’s Pilot Scholarship Program, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris and Simmons-Harris v. Goff;
  • Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program, Jackson v. Benson;
  • Arizona’s Corporate Scholarship Tax Credit Program, Green v. Garriott; and
  • Illinois’ Educational Expenses Tax Credit Program, Toney v. Bower and Griffith v. Bower.

“Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program is about providing true educational choice to Indiana families,” said Chip Mellor, the Institute’s president and general counsel. “Those with a political ax to grind tried to kill the program in its early stages, but, thankfully, they have failed. We know they will appeal, but we’re confident that we’ll prevail.”