Moving Forward: North Carolina Supreme Court Clears Way for School Choice Program

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · May 14, 2014

Arlington, Va.—Today, the North Carolina Supreme Court granted the Institute for Justice’s petition to allow the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) to operate while it considers a set of lawsuits challenging the program. The OSP has been on hold since late February, when Judge Robert Hobgood enjoined the program pending the outcome of the lawsuits.

“In lifting the injunction, the North Carolina Supreme Court has lifted a cloud over the program, and given hope to the thousands of families who have already applied for a scholarship,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Dick Komer, who is lead counsel for two families intervening in the case. “Although today’s decision isn’t the final word on the program, it bodes well for full vindication at the state’s highest court. More importantly, it bodes well for the families whose only wish is to find the best education for their children.”

North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was enacted in 2013, allows low-income parents to afford private school for their children whose needs aren’t being met by the public schools. More than 5,500 applications have already been filed for just 2,400 scholarships, making North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program the first school-choice program in the country to be oversubscribed in its first year.

The North Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling means that the program can proceed and that these parents might have a chance to send their children to private schools in the upcoming school year.

The injunction will be lifted while the parents represented by the Institute for Justice pursue their appeal in the North Carolina Supreme Court claiming that Judge Hobgood’s injunction was improper.

“The North Carolina Supreme Court has sent the Court of Appeals a strong and unmistakable signal: This program should be allowed to go on,” said IJ Attorney Renée Flaherty. “The trial judge misread the text of the North Carolina Constitution, which in no way prohibits the creation of innovative programs, such as the Opportunity Scholarship Program, that give our poorest families additional educational options. We are encouraged that the North Carolina Supreme Court will not allow the program to be derailed while this litigation proceeds.”

More information on the case is available at: