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June 19, 2013
Judge: Homeschoolers Eligible for
Tax Credit Scholarships, Not Religious Schools
Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members with legal issues in New Hampshire. He and his wife homeschool their children. Read more >>
Ruling Insists Credits are Public Monies
Judge John Lewis of Strafford County Superior Court issued a 45-page opinion on June 17, 2013 in the ACLU’s challenge to the New Hampshire Scholarship Tax Credit law, New Hampshire R.S.A 77-G.
Judge Lewis ruled that the program violated the New Hampshire Constitution’s Article 83 Blaine Amendment prohibiting the use of public funds for the benefit of religious schools. However, Lewis upheld the law as it related to scholarships to children attending out-of-district public schools, non-religious private schools and homeschools. HSLDA filed an amicus brief in the case which you can read here.
A key element in the court’s ruling was a finding that tax credits should be considered public monies. This finding is contrary to rulings in similar cases, including challenges heard in Arizona and at the U.S. Supreme Court which found that tax credits should not be considered public funds. This issue will likely be a key point in an anticipated appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court over the ruling. The Institute for Justice, which represented a scholarship program in defense of the law, has already announced it plans an appeal of the ruling. New Hampshire’s attorney general argued in defense of the law that tax credits should not be considered public monies.
Let Parents Decide
Many had expected that the judge might strike down the entire program. However, HSLDA is pleased to report that the overall program was upheld as constitutional for homeschoolers. We disagree with the court’s finding that tax credits are “public funds” and will support an appeal to preserve the entire program as it was written and passed by the New Hampshire Legislature. Parents should be the ones making decisions about where students go to school—not the state. It is not the government’s role to inquire as to the religious beliefs or character of parents or schools.
HSLDA supports tax credit programs for home educators. If you want to know why, please read more here. We encourage homeschoolers in New Hampshire to take advantage of the scholarship opportunities available and to let others know about them. The scholarship provides approximately $750 per child and can make a significant difference to those seeking to homeschool.
Protect Your Family
If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>