(The Center Square) – As the fight against the Hope Scholarship Program continues in the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Tuesday presented arguments to defend the legality of the scholarship program. school choice.
During oral argument, Morrisey asked the Supreme Court to dissolve a permanent injunction imposed by the Kanawha County Circuit Court. The injunction prevents the state from awarding the scholarships to the 3,146 children who were already enrolled in the program before the order. The trial court issued the injunction because it ruled the program violated the state constitution and that decision was upheld by an appeals court.
“We have a very strong case and the argument is very clear: A Kanawha Circuit Court judge’s decision is flawed in so many ways and only hurts the thousands of families who should be receiving money from the law,” Morrisey said in a statement. . “I strongly support the right of parents to choose the best possible education for their children and I will fight to prove that the law constitutionally provides for this right.”
The scholarship program sets up college savings accounts, which allow parents to use taxpayers’ money to offset costs associated with homeschooling or private education. The program is funded by diverting money that would otherwise have been used for that child’s public school education. Parents could access up to $4,600 each year through this scholarship.
A group called Public Funds Public Education sued the state on behalf of a few parents who argued that the program prevents the state from adequately funding public education because money is diverted from those schools. According to the state constitution, the legislature must provide a comprehensive and efficient system of free schools.
“The voucher law violates clear mandates of the West Virginia Constitution, which are essential to ensuring all students have access to a quality public education,” the Public Funds Public Schools co-founder and l lead attorney against the program, Tamerlin Godley. . “Courts across the country continue to recognize that voucher laws that violate their states’ constitutions must be struck down.”
However, Morrisey argued that the state still adequately funds public schools, but also gives parents more choice.
“The state provides a comprehensive and efficient system of free schools for the children of West Virginia and has the discretion to supplement this system through the Hope Scholarship Act,” Morrisey said in a statement. brief filed with the Supreme Court.
Morrisey’s argument also noted that the program does not take money from the school fund or redirect funding from earmarked appropriations specifically for public education in West Virginia.
Several organizations have filed amicus briefs with the court in support of the school choice program. This includes EdChoice, the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia, the Catholic Education Partners Foundation, and the West Virginia Christian Education Association.