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High Court OKs Ariz. Tax Credit For Religious Schools

Publication Date: 
April 04, 2011
National Public Radio (NPR)
Michele Norris

Professor Michael McConnell spoke with NPR's Michele Norris on the recent ruling to protect tax credits for religious school donors in Arizona, and what it says about the Supreme Court's view of church and state.

A deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that taxpayers have no legal right to challenge a tax break worth millions to donors supporting private religious schools. The 5-4 decision left intact an Arizona tax subsidy that was enacted because the state constitution forbids direct aid to religious schools.

Arizona is one of many states that have a state constitution barring direct aid to religious schools, including vouchers. These provisions date back more than a century.


But Stanford University law professor Michael McConnell says these decisions "probably [do] not change the ultimate outcome of any cases," given the current Supreme Court's more accommodating view of church and state.

Dismissing the challenges on the basis of legal standing, rather than on the merits, he says, "just means [the cases] are going to be resolved at a slightly earlier stage in the litigation."