Voucher Debate Heads to Court

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

Justices peppered attorneys with questions, especially about one line in the state Constitution which requires free, high quality public schools.

Peggy Quince, Supreme Court Justice, says, "Where does the Legislature then get the authority to in fact have other forms of education?"

Another judge questioned what would have happened if vouchers were available in the 1950s.

Barbara Pariente, Chief Justice, says, "We would’ve had all of the white students in a system of private schools."

More than half the of voucher students attend religious schools. Opponents argued that’s wrong.

John West, attorney for teachers, says, "The state is paying for the service that it’s paying the fee for, is religious indoctrination of young children."

Outside, as several thousand people chanted, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, former teacher Ruth Holmes, was happy.

"We waited a long time for this and I was very excited," she says.

The governor’s attorney was also relieved.

Barry Richard, Bush attorney, says, "I thought this was a great opportunity to find out what the real questions were that some of the judges had."

Right now, this court case is about just 741 students receiving opportunity scholarships, but if the court decides that they’re not allowed by the state Constitution than another 25,000 scholarships going to disabled and other students are likely to be challenged.

The voucher program has been in court for nearly seven years. Now its future depends on just seven justices.


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