Gaddy v. Georgia Department of Revenue (Supreme Court of Georgia, 2017)

State Supreme Court ,

This case involves a state constitutional challenge to a type of school vouchers program in Georgia called the Qualified Education Tax Credit Program. ADL joined an amicus brief opposing the Department of Revenue’s assertion of a sovereign immunity defense and supporting the merits of the appellants’ constitutional claim. Georgia’s Constitution provides its legislature with broad sovereign immunity on which the lower court dismissed the constitutional challenge. The brief argues that the lower court misapplied this sovereign immunity provision because it is inapplicable to constitutional claims. Alternatively, it asserts that where a statute, such as the Tax Credit Program, does not specifically invoke sovereign immunity, there should a presumption that the legislature waives it. As to appellants’ constitutional claim, the brief argues that the Program violates Georgia’s “No Aid” Clause, which provides for greater separation of church and state than the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It explains the historical development of the separation principle, how stricter separation of church and state protects religious freedom, and why the Program violates the No Aid Clause by diverting tens of millions of dollars in potential tax revenue to private religious schools that indoctrinate faith and discriminate on the basis of religion.