Victory for School Choice in Indiana’s Supreme Court

Today, the Indiana Supreme Court made an important decision for families in that state by unanimously upholding their school voucher law. “Finding that the challengers have not satisfied the high burden required to invalidate a statute on constitutional grounds, we affirm the trial court’s judgment upholding the constitutionality of the statutory voucher program,” the court wrote.

The teachers union-supported lawsuit argued that the law was unconstitutional as it caused public funds to end up in religious institutions, but the justices understood that the law benefited families first. Any benefits to these other organizations was simply incidental and, therefore, not in violation of the state Constitution. 

“It’s the end of the constitutional debate,” said Robert Enlow, president and chief executive of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “Anyone who says it is not legal in the state of Indiana no longer has a leg to stand on.” Senior Attorney Bert Gall of the Institute for Justice said that “The teachers’ unions tried to prevent parents from using Choice Scholarships to secure a quality education for their children, but the unions failed.” Governor Mike Pence released a statement saying, in part,

“I welcome the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Indiana’s school choice program. I have long believed that parents should be able to choose where their children go to school, regardless of their income. Now that the Indiana Supreme Court has unanimously upheld this important program, we must continue to find ways to expand educational opportunities for all Indiana families.”

One of the reasons that this case is such a pivotal step forward for school choice is that Indiana’s school voucher program has wider eligibility than most states offer. Normally, these programs are limited to students in low income families, failing schools, or specific geographical areas within the state. In Indiana, however, middle-class families may also participate to safeguard a better education for their children. 

The program, which is in its second year, is making great headway in Indiana as the fastest growing such program in history. Last year, 3,919 students received school vouchers. This year, that number has nearly tripled to 9,324, and is poised to expand even further in the years to come. Thankfully, the Indiana Supreme Court has protected the right for families to choose the best education for their children.