Arizona Court Decision Against School Vouchers Is Victory For Religious Liberty, Public Schools

Americans United for Separation of Church and State couldn’t be happier with yesterday’s Arizona Supreme Court decision striking down two school voucher programs that allowed state funds to support religious schools.

AU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Cain v. Horne case, and we think this decision is an extremely important victory that protects both religious liberty and public education.
Many states have placed formal prohibitions in their state constitutions against the use of tax funds for religious worship or instruction. Arizona’s Constitution specifically states, “[n]o tax shall be laid or appropriation of public money made in aid of any church, or private or sectarian school, or any public service corporation.”

These words reflect a principle that has been part of our country since its founding: You are free to practice the religion of your choice, but you must pay for it yourself. Taxpayers should never be required to contribute to religious institutions.

In addition to Arizona, 36 other states offer similar language in their constitutions. Yet many state legislatures continue to debate school voucher programs.

We’re hopeful Arizona’s decision will make it clear that these “no-aid” provisions must be taken seriously and that legislation allowing for taxpayer funds to support religious schools will not stand up in court.

Religious education is part of the American tradition, but public funding of religion certainly is not.

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