In case you missed it, last weekend the Supreme Court of the United States overturned a lower court’s ruling that Arizona’s system of educational tax credits was unconstitutional. Under the system, people can donate to private schools’ tuition scholarship programs and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their contribution. In practice, two-thirds of the $100 million of donations to such programs went to Christian schools, and the lower court had said this amounted to an unconstitutional “establishment of religion.”
Notice the way this NPR report spins the story to imply that this system of tax credits is first-to-last a covert way for the state to support religion; it relies on the oft-repeated but inaccurate canard about tax credits or deductions being the same thing as government expenditures or subsidies, a view that implicitly affirms that all wealth belongs to the State.
The dissenters likened it to a law giving people a tax credit for purchasing crucifixes, a flawed analogy since the actual tax credit is not for a specifically religious purpose. In fact, it accomplishes a utilitarian goal by reducing the fiscal burden on the public school system because private schools operate much more efficiently; thus the average cost-per-pupil in Arizona will go down.
There is a pretty good summary of the case on the Cato Institute’s blog.