On February 1, the Liberty Justice Center partnered with Americans for Prosperity, American Federation for Children, Manhattan Institute, and Reason Foundation to jointly file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of South Carolina, urging the Court to dismiss a lawsuit that would eliminate the state’s new education savings account (ESA) program. The program aims to provide low-income and middle-income families across the state with alternative options to public schools—options which are already available to wealthier families.
In May 2023, the state of South Carolina passed Senate Bill 39, creating the South Carolina Education Scholarship Trust Fund Program, a voucher program designed to increase school choice in the state. When fully implemented, the program will provide 15,000 K-12 South Carolinian students with access to financial aid for school-related expenses, like tuition and textbooks.
The bill was signed into law by a bipartisan majority and set to take effect in the 2024-2025 academic year. In October 2023, however, a group of petitioners sued, seeking to halt it before its implementation.
In the amicus brief, the Liberty Justice Center and its partners explain that the petitioners’ attempt to equate expanded educational freedom with discrimination is disingenuous. The brief highlights the benefits of school choice policies like South Carolina’s for a diverse constituency of children—for example, students zoned for failing public schools, neurodivergent students, religious minorities, victims of bullying, and children of active-duty military personnel.
“While everyone agrees that all children should have equal access to education, virtually no one thinks the way we educate children should be uniform. Teachers aren’t putting children on some kind of educational assembly line—they understand that different children have different needs, strengths, and weaknesses. School choice is essential to provide students and families with the options necessary to accommodate and celebrate those differences,” said Dean McGee, Educational Freedom Attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “We urge the South Carolina Supreme Court to uphold the Education Scholarship Trust Fund Program.”
Charleston-based attorney Christopher Mills served as local counsel for the submission to the Supreme Court of South Carolina.
The Liberty Justice Center’s amicus brief is available here.