Marion Superior Court Judge Michael Keele issued his ruling Monday afternoon to deny a temporary injunction that would have halted Indiana’s recently enacted Choice Scholarship Program. The program provides vouchers to families who meet income eligibility guidelines and wish to transfer their child from a public to private school. Opponents of the Choice Scholarship Program claimed that the legislation violates Indiana’s state constitution, contending that the state would effectively be providing public money to religious institutions. In his ruling, Judge Keele noted that the public funds are directed to religious schools only upon the “private individual choices of parents.” Because the eligible families are the agents in determining where the vouchers are used – whether at religious or non-religious private schools – the judge held that the law is “religion-neutral.”
This ruling is a huge (even if anticipated) victory for school choice supporters throughout Indiana, particularly for the families who have been empowered with greater choice. By the time the application deadline for a Choice Scholarship passes, more than 3,000 students will be enrolled in the program.