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Friday, July 27, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Status of the constitutional challenge to the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program

Indiana Legislative Insight's issue for the upcoming week has this note on variables facing budgetmakers this year:

One more potentially interesting variable: our sister newsletter, INDIANA EDUCATION INSIGHT, reported last week that in its motion to transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court, the Office of the Attorney General urged the justices to resolve the constitutional challenge to the state's Choice Scholarship Program "well before" the start of the 2012-13 school year for the sake of children, parents, and schools – and, we might add, for lawmakers. The Supreme Court granted the motion to transfer back in March (before Randall Shepard retired as chief justice), allowing the case to bypass the appellate court, but four months have now passed, and oral argument has not been scheduled (and bear in mind that yet another justice – a former state budget director himself, who understands the intricacies of the budget and school finance – is slated to retire by late September). Parents who must soon decide whether to apply to the program cannot be certain that scholarships will be available "because of the cloud of legal uncertainty created by this litigation," insists Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher in the state's motion to transfer. Fisher beseeched the Supreme Court to act with "speedy determination" to "dissipate that cloud in time for parents to have the certainty they need to plan for the coming school year." And while the direct fiscal impact would be minimal from any potential judicial kibosh on the choice scholarships themselves, the implications would be huge for the school finance formula and its philosophical underpinnings . . . and it would become even more confusing and disruptive to the process if lawmakers had to reopen the biennial budget mid-stream in 2014 (or in a special session next year) to address a Supreme Court directive on this. The decision to let so much time pass and likely have this issue heard and decided by two justices who were not on the Court when transfer was granted would seem to speak volumes about the level of importance the Supremes will place upon this high-profile challenge.
This ILB entry from March 16th quotes a press release the Supreme Court press office issued when it granted "a request that it take the appeal in Meredith v Daniels, the constitutional challenge to the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, directly from the trial court."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 27, 2012 09:54 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions