ACLU Opposes School Choice Program in New Hampshire

Sues over tax credit program for scholarships that might go to religious schools


Earlier today, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against New Hampshire's School Choice Scholarship Act of 2012, which offers tax credits worth 85% of corporate donations to registered, non-profit scholarship organizations that fund low- and middle-income students attending non-public or home schools. The ACLU argues that since parents can use the scholarships at religious schools, the law violates two provisions of New Hampshire's constitution: the historically anti-Catholic "Blaine Amendment" and the "compelled support" clause. Fortunately, similar scholarship tax credit (STC) laws have withstood every legal challenge thus far, including in states with very similar constitutional provisions.

The Blaine Amendment reads: "no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools or institutions of any religious sect or denomination." What complicates matters for opponents of the program is that, unlike voucher programs, STC programs do not rely on "public money" or "money raised by taxation"