The Herald Bulletin

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September 21, 2012

Indiana Supreme Court to hear voucher arguments

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments Nov. 21 on whether the nation's largest school voucher program violates the state constitution.

The court scheduled the arguments for and against the program this week after accepting jurisdiction over the case in April, bypassing the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Marion Superior Court Judge Michael Keele ruled Jan. 13 that Indiana's School Choice Scholarship program does not violate the state constitution because the state isn't directly funding parochial schools. Instead, it gives scholarship vouchers to parents, who can choose where to use them.

Opponents led by the Indiana State Teachers Association claim the program violates a state constitutional ban on government support of churches because it compels taxpayers to pay for schools that teach religion. They also argue in court briefs that because the schools teach religion, taxpayers are paying for religious instruction.

The Indiana attorney general's office and other groups defending the law argue that nobody is being compelled because parents are free to send their children to any school they want — public, private or parochial. They argue in briefs that striking down the program because some schools are affiliated with churches would amount to unnecessary government interference into religion.

Officials say Indiana's voucher program has about 9,000 students, making it the nation's largest such program.

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