Commentary

‘Monitor,’ Judge Wrongly Argue Your Money Is the Government’s Money

At what point does the money in your private bank account become the government’s money?

In an unprecedented decision last month, a Strafford County judge ruled that parents participating in New Hampshire’s nascent scholarship tax credit program could not choose to send their children to religious schools. The program grants tax credits to corporations worth 85 percent of their eligible donations to nonprofit scholarship organizations that fund low- and middle-income students attending the schools of their choice.

At what point does the money in your private bank account become the government’s money?”

Judge John Lewis ruled that scholarship recipients could still attend secular private schools, out-of-district public schools, and home schools.

However, he forbade the use of scholarships at religious schools as a violation the state Constitution’s historically anti-Catholic “Blaine Amendment” provision, which states that “no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination.”

The judge’s decision contradicts the understanding of every high court to address this question thus far. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that when “taxpayers choose to contribute to (scholarship organizations),  they spend their own money, not money the state has  collected from … other taxpayers.”

At what point does the money in your private bank account become the government’s money?

In an unprecedented decision last month, a Strafford County judge ruled that parents participating in New Hampshire’s nascent scholarship tax credit program could not choose to send their children to religious schools. The program grants tax credits to corporations worth 85 percent of their eligible donations to nonprofit scholarship organizations that fund low- and middle-income students attending the schools of their choice.

Judge John Lewis ruled that scholarship recipients could still attend secular private schools, out-of-district public schools, and home schools.

However, he forbade the use of scholarships at religious schools as a violation the state Constitution’s historically anti-Catholic “Blaine Amendment” provision, which states that “no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination.”

The judge’s decision contradicts the understanding of every high court to address this question thus far. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that when “taxpayers choose to contribute to (scholarship organizations),  they spend their own money, not money the state has  collected from … other taxpayers.”

Jason Bedrick, a former New Hampshire state representative, is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.