Oral argument: Nov. 3, 2010
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Oct. 21, 2009)
ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE, SCHOOL TUITION ORGANIZATIONS, TAXPAYER STANDING
Arizona taxpayers brought claims alleging that Arizona’s Tuition Tax Credit violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Tax Credit gives taxpayers a reduction in their tax liabilities for their donations to school tuition organizations. These organizations may give scholarships to students of particular faiths to attend certain religious schools. The taxpayers contend that they have the right to sue the government and these organizations for two reasons: the state loses over $50 million in tax revenue each year because the money that the organizations receive would otherwise be state tax revenue and the Tuition Tax Credit promotes religion. The petitioners claim that the taxpayers do not assert a sufficiently personal injury to initiate a lawsuit, and they claim that program does not violate the Establishment Clause because individual taxpayers, not the government, choose where to donate their money. The Supreme Court will decide whether the taxpayers have the right to sue and if so, whether Arizona’s Tax Credit violates the Establishment Clause.