Colorado Congress of Parents, Teachers and Students v. Owens

Freedom of Expression & Religion
Case No. No. 03CV3734, Denver District Court; No. 03SA364, Colorado Supreme Court
ACLU Case No. 2003-05


On April 16, 2003, Governor Owens signed HB 03-1160, the Colorado Opportunity Contract Pilot Program. It authorizes a voucher program that makes public funds available to pay for students who want to attend private schools, including sectarian religious schools. The lawsuit, filed on May 20, 2003, alleges that the new law violates several provisions of the Colorado Constitution. One of those provisions, Article IX, Section 7, expressly prohibits spending any public funds "to help support or sustain any school…controlled by any church or sectarian denomination whatsoever." Without deciding whether the vouchers program violates that provision, the Denver District Court held that the statute violates a separate state constitutional provision guaranteeing local control of public schools. The Colorado Supreme Court agreed, in a ruling issued on June 28, 2004.


Attorneys from American Jewish Committee
Attorneys from American Jewish Congress
Attorneys from Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Attorneys from People for the American Way
Attorneys from the Colorado Education Association
John M. West
Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director

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