It is your money after all

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in the case of Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn.  The case hinges upon the issue of “standing”, which is a lawyer’s way of saying, do the people who have filed this law suit have the legal right to do so.  But, the answer to that question is not the reason for this post.

First, let me explain the facts. 

Arizona has a provision in its tax code that gives an individual taxpayer a tax credit of up to $500 per year for contributions he or she makes Student Tuition Organizations, or, STO’s.  The STO’s then use the contributions received to provide scholarships to students.  Many of the students receiving these scholarships use the money to attend religious schools. 

A group of Arizona taxpayers sued claiming that this tax credit was a violation of the Establishment Clause, i.e.,  a violation of the  “separation of church and state”.  (Yes, I know that those words appear nowhere in the Constitution, but, please stay with me.)  In other words, the taxpayers claimed that the net effect of this tax credit was that the State of Arizona was using public money to fund religious schools. 

In deciding that the folks that sued lacked “standing” Mr. Justice Kennedy, in a 5-4 decision stated (at page 20) that the position taken by the taxpayers who challenged the law,

assumes that income should be treated as if it were government property even if it has not come into the tax collector’s hands.

According to Mr. Justice Kennedy, money isn’t government property until it is lawfully collected by the government. 

Until then, it belongs to you.

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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. Marilyn on April 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    There aint no seperation of Church&State.  (sorry for the aint Mom) she always hated that.  So Barbara is this the Oligaracy?   The choosen, rewriting law in defiance of the courts.  Propety rights, not so much.  All belongs to the choosen and shall be given  as they see fit. Not in my life time, not on my watch and that you can take to the bank.

  2. NH-Jim on April 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Interesting, SOS, would this possibly set precedent for all fees and hidden charges that are NOT actually collected by the government? (i.e. <a title="Bottle Bill" href="; rel="nofollow">bottle deposits confiscated by the state, <a title="Lawsuit over Electric Bills" href="; rel="nofollow">charges on electric bills, etc.)

  3. winnie888 on April 5, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Very, very interesting…Someone finally gets it.   Didn't take too long, did it? ha.

  4. Plainvillian on April 6, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Wow!  One has the the right to keep or dispose of ones money as one chooses?  What a concept!

  5. BEA on April 6, 2011 at 4:42 am

    It is my money and Paul Ryan's common sense approach to the deficit? Just too much good news to take in all in one morning!!!

  6. Dimsdale on April 6, 2011 at 5:03 am

    Yeah, it is your money, but the second you do something with it (legally, anyway) the government gets a cut, be it state, federal or local.


    Every time money changes hands, one criminal or another gets a cut.

  7. Dimsdale on April 6, 2011 at 5:58 am

    If you overpay your taxes, which most folks seem to do, is it then the government's money?

  8. brianh on April 6, 2011 at 6:42 am

    This case makes my hair hurt and I really can't get my arms around it, but Dimsdale makes the point of the day: "Every time money changes hands, one criminal or another gets a cut."

  9. TomL on April 6, 2011 at 11:09 am

    What about the fact that for every dollar CT sends to DC we get $.68 back. Whats that a 32% transaction fee. Lets eliminate the middleman.

  10. PatRiot on April 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Mr. Kennedy should have gone farther.  He should have stated that the government is the steward of the American taxpayer's money.  And as such, has the responsibility to be as prudent with these dollars as if they were their own. 

  11. concernedat18 on April 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    SOS you racist. how dare you suggest its not the money of Gov.? You know white people stole it from the blacks, latinos and native americans

  12. PatRiot on April 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    In re-reading the SOS’s excellent post,?I pose a question:? If the taxpayer’s money becomes government money upon payment, can?the government then?tell the American taxpayer that they?have no say in how the money is used??
    Thus infringing on our right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.?

    • Dimsdale on April 7, 2011 at 5:20 am

      Look at how they treated corporations before the Citizens United decision….


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