ORTHODOX UNION CRITICIZES NEW HAMPSHIRE COURT RULING REJECTING SCHOLARSHIP TAX CREDIT PROGRAM; JUDGE’S RATIONALE WOULD INVALIDATE ANY CHARITABLE DONATION TO RELIGIOUS ENTITIES
Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, sharply criticized a ruling by New Hampshire’s Strafford County Superior Court Judge John Lewis invalidating the Granite State’s education scholarship tax credit program on state constitutional grounds.
Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy stated:
“For decades, the United States Supreme Court has recognized that under the United States Constitution, laws that support—via tax credits or other methods—private funds to flow to religious institutions do not violate the federal Establishment Clause. While the New Hampshire state constitution contains more restrictive language on this topic, the state court’s ruling is a radical departure from the spirit of American jurisprudence.
“In his opinion yesterday, Judge Lewis ruled the tax credit program violates Article 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution, which states that ‘no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools or institutions of any religious sect or denomination.’ Lewis found the program uses public funds, even if funding doesn’t come directly from the government. Money that would have flowed to the government, he said, is instead diverted for a specific purpose.
“Taken to its logical conclusion, this rationale would invalidate any charitable donation to a religious entity, since an individual’s dollar placed in the charity box would have otherwise flowed to the government’s coffers.
“This ruling must not stand. The Orthodox Union will work with our friends and allies to have it overturned by the New Hampshire State Supreme Court.”
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The Orthodox Union is the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization; the OU Advocacy Center, formerly the Institute for Public Affairs, is the non-partisan public policy arm of the OU and leads its advocacy efforts in Washington, DC and state capitals.
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