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Voucher suit amicus brief

Americans United for Separation of Church and State this week filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the lawsuit challenging Indiana's voucher entitlement program. Meredith v. Daniels, filed last July, is on appeal following its dismissal by a Marion County Superior Court judge.

"(The) voucher program is inconsistent with the Indiana Constitution and cases interpreting its provisions, and creates a significant risk of lasting harm to Indiana public schools by diverting scarce educational resources to finance religious education at private schools that discriminate on the basis of religion," according to the brief. "The history of the 1851 Indiana Constitution, moreover, confirms that the voucher program is inconsistent with the Framers' vision for a robust system of free, common schools whose resources would not be diverted to private, religious schools."

Read the entire brief here, in pdf form.

Of the more than 250 schools benefiting from vouchers in Indiana's Choice Scholarship Program, all but six are religiously affiliated.

The AU brief argues that Indiana's ban on taxpayer support to religion was broad, unlike the "Blaine amendments" approved in other states that aimed at barring funding specifically to Catholic parochial schools. Indiana's provision, however, was passed in 1851 – 24 years before U.S. Sen. James G. Blaine introduced an amendment in Congress.

Perhaps mindful of the pending lawsuit, Indiana lawmakers resisted all but a slight expansion of voucher eligibility in the just-ended session.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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