Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Oklahoma High Court Dismisses Challenge To Voucher Program On Standing Grounds

Last March, an Oklahoma state trial court judge struck down Oklahoma's school voucher program for special needs students, finding that the program violates the state Constitution's ban on use of public funds to benefit any sectarian institution. (Constitution, Art. II-5). 38 of the 40 schools eligible to enroll students under the program are Christian schools. (See prior posting.) Now in Independent School District No. 5 of Tulsa County v. Spry, (OK Sup. Ct., Nov. 20, 2012), in a 7-2 decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed that decision on standing grounds. It held that the school districts which were plaintiffs in the lawsuit lack standing because they are not taxpayers who have a right to challenge the program, nor are the funds involved taxes from taxpayers in the districts' county revenue streams that a county assessor is improperly reducing or disposing of. Becket Fund issued a press release announcing the state Supreme Court's decision.