You may have heard that on Thursday the state Supreme Court upheld the state’s tuition tax credit scholarship program. We wish it had. You may have heard that the court threw out a challenge to the program. It did, but for reasons that have nothing to do with the program. What the court did was invalidate a law that had a far broader impact than the scholarship program.
Since 1863, New Hampshire law has held that taxpayers had legal standing in court to sue the government for the purpose of blocking illegal laws. That changed in 2010, when the state Supreme Court ruled that legal standing was reserved only for those who could show a law had harmed them.
In 2012, legislators restored legal standing to taxpayers. Republicans, in the majority, believed it would serve as a check on government. Ironically, some liberal Democrats used that law to sue the state over the tuition tax credit scholarships, which Republicans had also passed. On Thursday, the court ruled that the law giving taxpayers legal standing violated the New Hampshire Constitution, so the suit to overturn the tax credit law was invalid. The left and right both have a strong interest in overturning this ruling and restoring the taxpayer right to sue over illegal laws. Addressing this in a constitutional amendment next year would be appropriate.