ARLINGTON, Va.—On Friday, the Institute for Justice (IJ) submitted an amicus brief in a case before the Mississippi Supreme Court, asking it to preserve the state legislature’s discretion to establish educational choice programs that provide support to Mississippi school children.
The case has its origins in a program the Legislature enacted to provide assistance to nonpublic schools. The Chancery Court of Hinds County struck down the program on the grounds that Section 208 of the Mississippi Constitution bars the Legislature from appropriating money to nonpublic schools.
IJ’s brief does not take a position on whether the lower court’s ruling was correct. Instead, IJ’s brief asks the Mississippi Supreme Court to make clear that regardless of whether the Legislature can provide institutional aid to nonpublic schools, it can provide individual aid to students attending nonpublic schools.
“State courts around the country, including the Mississippi Supreme Court, have long recognized that the beneficiaries of student aid programs are students, not schools,” said IJ Educational Choice Attorney David Hodges. “The Court should reaffirm that the Mississippi Constitution permits the legislature to provide aid for students whose parents exercise their fundamental constitutional right to choose a private education for their children.”
IJ is the nation’s leading defender of educational choice programs. In 2022, IJ won a landmark decision before the United States Supreme Court which held that a state cannot prevent families that participate in choice programs from using those funds to send their children to schools with religious instruction. Two years prior, IJ won a similar case before the Supreme Court which held that choice programs must be neutral regarding religious schools. IJ is currently defending choice programs in Alaska, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Tennessee.