A federal judge today issued an injunction blocking implementation of Cleveland's religious school voucher program. Americans United hailed the decision as a victory for Ohio taxpayers and religious freedom.
"This decision brings the school voucher train to a screeching halt," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "This is the second federal court to rule against vouchers in the past three months. Voucher supporters need to realize that the law is not on their side.
"Taxpayers cannot be required to support houses of worship or their schools," Lynn continued. "This is a huge victory for religious freedom and common sense."
The Ohio case, Simmons-Harris v. Zelman, was filed on behalf of three parents and taxpayers by Americans United and a coalition of civil liberties and educational groups. The organizations charged that the plan violates the separation of church and state by funneling taxpayer money into the coffers of religious schools.
Ohio's Pilot Project Scholarship Program issues vouchers of up to $2,500 for Cleveland students to attend religious and other private schools.
In his 28-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. wrote that the voucher program raises serious church-state problems and stated, "The Cleveland Program has the primary effect of advancing religion."
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.