The Blaine Amendments: State Constitutions & School Choice
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The Blaine Amendments: State Constitutions & School Choice

October 18, 2019


The term “Blaine Amendments” is a generic
word that we use to refer to a number of state provisions that were put in constitutions
in the 19th century that basically were about the same thing. These were all provisions, the purpose of
which was to say public funds should not go to sectarian institutions. The Blaine Amendments have put a barrier that
stands in the way of school choice programs in some states. So even though the supreme court has said
that tax credits are fine or school vouchers are fine for kids going to religious schools,
in some states these Blaine Amendments are standing in the way of choice-based reform. Today, the best argument in favor of the Blaine
Amendments is that it makes good sense to keep church and state separate. Supporters of the Blaine Amendment can say
governments have scarce funds and it’s important to use public funds for public purposes, and
a state can decide, if it wants to, that it’s gonna have, uh, an even higher wall of separation
than the one that the constitution requires. The challenge to the Blaine Amendments rests
on the claim that discrimination against religion or discrimination on the basis of religion
is unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution does forbid states from
establishing a religion, but at the same time, the supreme court has said that the first
amendment allows states to treat religious and secular institutions in an even-handed
way, on an equal basis, and they’ve gone further. The Supreme Court has interpreted the constitution
to mean that governments may not discriminate against institutions or persons just because
they’re religious. That rule trumps any effort by states to experiment
with stricter rules of their own. So there’s at least two ways to sort of fix
the Blaine Amendment problem. One way is for the states themselves, either
in their legislatures or in their courts, to interpret these amendments of maybe just
get rid of them. If a state decides, as Missouri has, to interpret
its own law in a strict way, to forbid any funding from reaching a religious entity,
then the only way to fix this problem is for the U.S. Supreme Court to say that this kind
of discrimination violates the first and fourteenth amendments.

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  1. How about just cutting all the free loader scam all together for secular and religious factions. Socialism is a scam!

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