• Newsletters
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
View complete forecast
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Let the voucher debate proceed

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:01 am
There never should have been any doubt about the constitutionality of Indiana’s school voucher program. Now there isn’t. The state Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that the vouchers do not violate the Indiana constitution’s prohibition of spending “for the benefit of” religious institutions.The nation’s Supreme Court had already ruled, in a 2002 case from Cleveland, that vouchers allowing the spending of public money on private schools do not violate the U.S. Constitution’s requirement for the separation of church and state. The only question was whether the language of the state constitution requires a narrower perspective. Now we know – it does not.

Of course that doesn’t mean the state should have vouchers, merely that it can, a point strongly made by Chief Justice Brent Dickson: “We emphasize that the issues before this court do not include the public policy merits of the school voucher program,” he wrote. “The desirability and efficacy of school choice are matters to be resolved through the political process.”

The ruling does mean that the current debate over that “desirability and efficacy” may now proceed unfettered. Our voucher program is already the most sweeping in the nation, and some members of the General Assembly want to expand it greatly this year. Others, including some supporters, want to take it a little slower since there are only a year’s worth of results. Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, for example wants to study the program for five years before deciding whether it achieves the promised results.

Of equal importance, the state high court has managed to articulate, in a way the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t seem able to, an important aspect of the arm’s-length distance between church and state our system calls for. Government is not to institute a religion, so it is forbidden from passing laws or spending money in a way that favors one religion over another. But it isn’t required to be hostile to religion and refrain from any actions that might encourage our religious expressions. There have been too many efforts to chase religion from our public life, and this ruling is a welcome change.


News-Sentinel.com reserves the right to remove any content appearing on its website. Our policy will be to remove postings that constitute profanity, obscenity, libel, spam, invasion of privacy, impersonation of another, or attacks on racial, ethnic or other groups. For more information, see our user rules page.
comments powered by Disqus