Florida Court Rules Voucher Law Unconstitutional

Upholds Lower Court Decision: Voucher Law Violates Separation of Church & State

The Florida Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 today to uphold a lower court decision striking down the country’s first state-wide voucher program. The Court affirmed the lower court ruling that the Florida voucher law violated the “no aid” clause of the state constitution providing that public funds cannot be used to aid sectarian institutions. People For the American Way Foundation, along with the Florida Teaching Profession-NEA, the ACLU, the American Jewish Congress, and other organizations filed suit in state court on behalf of parents and other taxpayers challenging the constitutionality of the voucher program.

“This is a great victory for the students, parents and taxpayers of Florida,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way Foundation. “Governor Bush and his cohorts in the state legislature have blindly supported this voucher program even though it has been proven a failure. Now that two state courts have declared it unconstitutional, the Governor and his allies should turn to the work of ensuring every Florida child a quality public education.”

“The authors of the Florida state constitution were very clear: public funds cannot be given to religious institutions,” said Judith Schaeffer, Deputy Legal Director at People For the American Way Foundation. “In today’s ruling the court reaffirmed the plain language of this important constitutional provision protecting religious freedom in Florida.”

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