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At The Supreme Court: A Victory for School Choice and Parents’ Rights

By Alan Sears posted on:
October 17, 2017

Some victories are especially sweet. A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn includes four of my favorite aspects of any case represented by the Alliance Defense Fund and our allies:

  • Your religious freedom – and our client – won.
  • You – and our client – won at the Supreme Court.
  • You – and our client – were victorious over the ACLU.
  • This victory expands the breadths of religious freedom in America for you and our client.

United States Supreme CourtOn April 4, the high court dismissed an eight-year-long ACLU lawsuit against an Arizona program allowing state residents to claim a tax credit for donations they make to private organizations that provide scholarships for students who attend private schools – including Christian schools.

The ACLU’s clients don’t want their fellow citizens – in addition to paying the usual taxes – to also support private education (and receive tax credits for doing so).  But the high court ruled 5-4 that the ACLU’s objections have no legal standing – in effect, that it’s none of the objectors’ business if taxpayers want to invest in scholarships for boys and girls wanting an alternative to government schools. What’s more, the Court’s ruling allows such programs to continue despite ACLU arguments that they violate the so-called “separation between church and state.”

Much of that may sound like common sense to you, but it’s been a legal question looming across the country in recent years, and this God-given decision creates a national precedent limiting many future attacks on these kinds of programs.

“Parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children,” says ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “This ruling empowers parents to do just that. Parents should decide what schools their children attend and where their money goes. The ACLU failed in its attempt to eliminate school choice for hundreds of thousands of students nationwide and also failed to demonstrate that it had any constitutional basis for its clients to file suit in the first place.”

ADF represented the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization, one of more than 50 non-profit 501(c)(3) corporations organized to distribute private donations in the form of scholarships to more than 27,000 students attending hundreds of schools of their parents’ choice throughout the state. ADF argued that the Arizona program involves individual, private choices and funding – not government action or money – and pointed out that the program saves the taxpayers a lot of money and relieves burdens on overcrowded government schools.

Thank you – and thanks be to God – for enabling ADF to persevere in fighting for this nation-shaping victory across these many years … and for the freedom this win affords parents nationwide to choose a school for their children that doesn’t undermine their family’s Christian beliefs.

Alan Sears

Alan Sears


Alan Sears served as founder of Alliance Defending Freedom, building on his experience as longtime leader of the organization to strengthen alliances, forge new relationships, and develop ADF resources.

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