Monday, April 4, 2011

Can just hear the wheels turning ...

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2011 at 1:53 PM

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The New York Times is reporting on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold an Arizona scheme that awarded tax credits up to $500 for donations to fund scholarships to religious schools.

The court broke on a 5-4 decision, with the issue of whether or not a tax credit constituted the unconstitutional use of taxpayer money to support specific religious sects.

The program itself is novel and complicated, and allowing it to go forward may be of no particular moment. But by closing the courthouse door to some kinds of suits that claim violations of the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion, the court’s ruling in the case may be quite consequential.

Justice Elena Kagan, in her first dissent, said the majority had laid waste to the doctrine of “taxpayer standing,” which allows suits from people who object to having tax money spent on religious matters. “The court’s opinion,” Justice Kagan wrote, “offers a road map — more truly, a one-step instruction — to any government that wishes to insulate its financing of religious activity from legal challenge.”

We'll see how long it takes for this ruling to have an impact in Colorado — starting, of course, in Colorado Springs.

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