Friday, September 07, 2018

Group Lacks Standing To Challenge Charter School Act On Establishment Clause Grounds

In Indiana Coalition for Public Education v. McCormick, (SD IN, Sept. 6, 2018), an Indiana federal district court dismissed on standing grounds a suit by an advocacy organization challenging on Establishment Clause grounds Indiana's Charter School Act. Plaintiff claims that it is unconstitutional for the state to allow a religious college to be an authorizer for public charter schools.  The court said in part:
The Coalition’s Complaint is really a challenge to Indiana’s policies of school choice and of school funding following the student, draped in the clothing of an Establishment Clause challenge. But the Coalition challenges just one recipient of that funding, and it all but admits that its alleged injuries are in no meaningful way caused by the religious character of Seven Oaks’ authorizer. Rather, it is a mere coincidence that Seven Oaks, with which the public school corporations must compete for students, happens to be authorized by a religious institution. The school corporations would face exactly the same funding difficulties (and thus the Coalition would face the same alleged injury) had Seven Oaks been authorized by a secular private college, as permitted by the Charter School Act, instead of Grace College. These observations confirm the gross misfit between the alleged constitutional injury and the Coalition’s requested relief.