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Lead attorney opposing NH vouchers explains why states shouldn’t be forced to fund religious schools | redefinED
This piece by Alex Luchenitser, our lead attorney in the case against New Hampshire vouchers, responds in a clear, straightforward way to some of the heavily-used rhetorical points made by voucher supporters (emphasis added). All the better that it’s in redefinED, the belly of the school choice beast:
Editor’s note: Alex J. Luchenitser is associate legal director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and lead counsel for the plaintiffs challenging New Hampshire’s tuition tax-credit program.
In a June 24 blog entry, Charles Glenn attacks a recent New Hampshire state-court decision declaring the state’s tuition tax-credit program to be unconstitutional to the extent that it funds religious schools. Dr. Glenn argues that this ruling amounts to “religious discrimination” that should be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. His arguments, however, reflect a misreading of history, and they have already – and rightly – been rejected by the Supreme Court.
The New Hampshire Constitution strictly prohibits the diversion of tax funds to religious education. Well aware of this, the New Hampshire legislature passed the tax-credit program in an effort to circumvent the constitutional prohibition. The state court saw through this scheme, correctly concluding that there is no practical difference between using direct appropriations to fund private-school scholarships and using tax credits to do so.
Dr. Glenn contends the 1877 constitutional provision on which the state court relied was motivated by anti-Catholic animus. But the historical record belies this claim. The same constitutional convention that approved the constitutional provision in question also approved the removal from the state constitution of two clauses that had discriminated in favor of Protestants and against Catholics.