CHARLESTON, W.V.—The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals today released a full ruling affirming the constitutionality of the Hope Scholarship Program. This paves the way for families to use scholarships for private school tuition, therapies and a wide variety of other education expenses. The 4-1 decision overturns a lower court injunction that halted the program in July. Following a constitutional challenge to the program in January, the Institute for Justice (IJ) intervened on behalf of Morgantown, West Virginia, parent Katie Switzer and Albright, West Virginia, parent Jennifer Compton to defend the program’s constitutionality under the West Virginia Constitution.
“The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals confirmed what state court after state court has found,” said IJ Attorney Joshua House. “The constitutional requirement to provide for public schools is a floor, not a ceiling. West Virginia has to provide public schools, but it can give parents other options, too.”
In the majority decision, Justice Tim Armstead writes, “we find that the West Virginia Constitution does not prohibit the Legislature from enacting the Hope Scholarship Act in addition to providing for a thorough and efficient system of free schools.” The Supreme Court directs the lower court to rule in the favor of parents and the state.
“We’re really excited to have this in writing,” said Katie Switzer. “This helps us have confidence moving forward to make decisions about the best education for our children.”
IJ is the nation’s leading legal defender of educational choice programs, having won numerous lawsuits, including four at the U.S. Supreme Court. IJ is currently defending choice programs in Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee.