Constitutional Provisions

Compelled Support Clause

“[A]nd no person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support, any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent.” Indiana Const. Art. 1, § 4.

Blaine Amendment

“No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.” Indiana Const. Art. 1, § 6.

Education Article

“[I]t shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.” Indiana Const. Art. 8, § 1.

Vouchers: Yes

Tax Credits: Yes

Existing Private School Choice Programs

School Scholarship Tax Credit

Indiana Code Sections 6-3.1 to 30.5, 20-51-1

Choice Scholarship Program
Indiana Code Sections 20-51-1 to -4

Private School/Homeschool Deduction
Indiana Code Section 6-3-2-22

Relevant Case Law

Meredith v. Pence, 984 N.E.2d 1213 (Ind. 2013)

The Indiana Supreme Court held that the Choice Scholarship Program was constitutional. The program did not violate Article 8, Section 1 because that provision allows the Legislature to supplement the public school system with private options. And the program violated neither Indiana’s Blaine Amendment nor Compelled Support Clause because any benefit to religious schools was incidental to the choice of the schools by parents.

Embry v. O’Bannon, 798 N.E.2d 157, 166-167 (Ind. 2003)

The Indiana Supreme Court upheld dual-enrollment programs that allow private school students to also enroll in public schools and to receive publicly provided services in their private schools. The Court said the programs do not violate either Indiana’s Blaine Amendment or its Compelled Support Clause because they “do not confer substantial benefits upon any religious or theological institution, nor directly fund activities of a religious nature.” The Court went on to note that “‘incidental

benefits’ to religious sects or societies do not invalidate an otherwise constitutional statutory program plainly intended and formulated to serve a public purpose”— in this case, education.

State ex rel. Johnson v. Boyd, 28 N.E.2d 256 (Ind. 1940)

The Indiana Supreme Court held that neither Indiana’s Compelled Support Clause nor Indiana’s Blaine Amendment was violated when a Catholic church closed its parish school and donated the old school buildings to the state, which subsequently used the building as a public school and employed priests as teachers. Rejecting the contention that the church or religion were benefited by the school board’s retention of the priests, the Court noted that Indiana’s Religion Clauses are concerned with donations to religious schools that further their religious missions, not incidental benefits that may flow to a religious institution as a result of private choices—in this case, the board’s decision that the priests were qualified to teach the material provided by the public school curriculum.

1967 Ind. AG LEXIS 68 (1967 Opinion Attorney General Ind. 9); see also 1980 Ind. AG LEXIS 12 (1980 Opinion attorney general Ind. 96) (school board cannot deny free transportation to parochial students living along established bus routes but attending schools outside the school district)

The Indiana attorney general wrote that providing free bus transportation for parochial school students on the same basis as public school students does not violate Indiana’s Blaine Amendment because any benefit to parochial schools is incidental to the protection and education of children.

Analysis and Recommendations

Both tax credit and voucher programs are school choice options for Indiana. In Meredith v. Pence, the Indiana Supreme Court made clear that student-assistance programs are permitted under Article 8, Section 1 (in the education article) of the state constitution, as well as that constitution’s Compelled Support Clause and Blaine Amendment.

Model Legislation: Education Savings Account, Parental Choice Scholarship Program (Universal Eligibility), Parental Choice Scholarship Program (Means-Tested Eligibility), Special Needs Scholarship Program, Foster Child Scholarship Program, Autism Scholarship, Great Schools Tax Credit Program, Family Education Tax Credit Program

Sign up to receive IJ's biweekly digital magazine, Liberty & Law along with breaking updates about our fight to protect the rights of all Americans.