Washington D.C., Nov 4, 2010 / 04:16 am
As the Supreme Court considered a case involving tax credits and religious education on November 3, indications of a surprising agreement emerged between some of the court's most conservative justices and the Obama administration.
The case pits the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization against a group of citizens charging that a 1997 government tax credit program amounted to a state establishment of religion. The program allowed taxpayers to donate money toward a variety of private scholarship foundations, rather than paying the same amount to the government through taxes.
In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that a school voucher program in Ohio which gives parents a tuition grant to be used toward a range of secular or religious schools did not violate the establishment clause. In April 2009, however, a panel of judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Arizona tax credit program might still amount to an establishment of religion.
The Obama administration disagreed—noting that the Arizona statute does not privilege religious education, and maintaining that it passes the constitutional test at least as easily as the Ohio vouchers. As the high court heard oral arguments in the case on November 3, Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to agree with the White House's position.