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Top court hears NH tax credit case
Esther Fleurant of Concord, along with four of her seven children, were among protesters gathered Wednesday outside the state Supreme Court. (PAT GROSSMITH/UNION LEADER)
Protesters gather Wednesday morning on the steps of the New Hampshire Supreme Court in anticipation of oral arguments on the constitutionality of a business tax credit that benefits students at religious schools. PAT GROSSMITH/UNION LEADER
Attorney Alex J. Luchenitser, representing Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUFSCS) in Washington, D.C., also a plaintiff in the case along with the New Hampshire and American Civil Liberties Unions, maintained the state law was enacted to circumvent the state constitution, which prohibits tax money being sent to religious schools.
An amicus brief was filed by Gov. Maggie Hassan, who sided with the plaintiffs contending the tax credit is an education voucher program that will undermine funding of public education. Democratic Gov. John Lynch vetoed the 2012 legislation when he was in office, but the Republican-controlled Legislature overrode it.
Assistant Attorney General Richard W. Head told the court the law is constitutional and the money cannot be considered public funds because the government never receives it.
“That’s true,” Head replied.
Attorney Richard D. Komer, representing the Institute for Justice and other intervenors who favored the tax credit, contended none of the plaintiffs had standing to bring the lawsuit. The only person who could do that, he said, was the governor or individuals who could show personal harm.
“I don’t know, frankly,” Komer replied.
Prior to the hearing, about two dozen people who favor the tax credit protested on the steps of the courthouse.
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