In June 2012, the New Hampshire legislature enacted legislation allowing businesses to receive tax credits for donations to “scholarship organizations.” The scholarship organizations, in turn, would use the funds to award scholarships to elementary- and secondary-school students, including those attending religious schools. Religious schools would be free to use program funds for any purpose, including religious indoctrination and proselytization. And the law would allow these funds to go to schools that discriminate based on religion in admissions or employment.
In January 2013, we filed a lawsuit in New Hampshire state court, arguing that the tax-credit program violates the New Hampshire Constitution. We are litigating the case alongside the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU. Our clients include clergy, public-education advocates, and parents of children attending public schools.
In June 2013, the trial court ruled that the tax credit program violates the New Hampshire Constitution, which prohibits “money raised by taxation” from being “granted or applied for the use of the schools or institutions of any religious sect or denomination.”
The defendants appealed, and in August 2014, the New Hampshire Supreme Court dismissed our lawsuit. The court held that our clients lack “standing” – the right to sue – even though the Attorney General’s Office had agreed that one of the plaintiffs had standing to challenge the tax-credit program.