UC Law Constitutional Quarterly


In a 5-4 decision in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, the U.S. Supreme Court drastically curtailed American taxpayers' ability to challenge the constitutionality of certain government expenditures. At issue in Winn was the constitutionality of a tax credit provision that offered a tax break to individuals who donated money to organizations that support religious schools. The Court ruled that taxpayers could not challenge the constitutionality of the tax credit provision because they lacked legal standing to do so.

This note will first present the background of the Winn decision and the history of taxpayer standing. Second, it will explore the reasons why Winn was wrongly decided. Third, it will explain why-because of Winnno taxpayer can now challenge questionable government expenditures. Finally, the economic, political, and social implications of Winn will be described by examining: (1) Winn's impact on secularism in the United States, and (2) whether the Winn decision will help to improve the academic performance of our nation's schoolchildren in order to accomplish the lofty educational goals created by the No Child Left Behind Act ("NCLB").