Docket for 18-1195 (Supreme Court docket #18-1195)
Issue : Whether it violates the religion clauses or the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution to invalidate a generally available and religiously neutral student-aid program simply because the program affords students the choice of attending religious schools.
The issue of “Blaine Amendments” has finally come before the Supreme Court and oral arguments will occur on January 22, 2020. Unfortunately, I expect that the Supreme Court will rule for Petitioner Espinoza, thus invalidating Blaine Amendments in every state.
Yes, Blaine Amendments were adopted in the 1870’s and 1880’s to prevent public funds from going to Catholic schools. But a measure adopted with a nefarious motive can morph into a positive good over time.
At the time of the adoption of the Blaine Amendments, public schools were under Protestant control for the most part and used Protestant material. Today, the public schools have been freed of Protestant control and the Blaine Amendments work equally against Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Pagans, Wiccans, etc.
Blaine Amendments remain popular today. In 2012, Florida voters rejected an attempt to remove the Florida Blaine Amendment, with 56% voting against the measure and thus in support of the Blaine Amendment. Efforts elsewhere to remove Blaine Amendments have met with defeat at the polls.
People do not want public money going to religion and their votes reflect this sentiment.
I would rule for the Respondent Montana Department of Revenue.
If the Blaine Amendments does fall, than we need to work to shut off a programs that divert tax money from the public schools, regardless of what kind of institution receives the money. A blanket ban of public money to all outside institutions would remain legal regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in this case and would ensure that not a cent of public money falls into the hands of a religious based institution.
I am NOT the greatest supporter of the public education lobby, to be sure. However, I am far less a supporter of public money going to religion of any sort.
And again, regardless of their original motivation, Blaine Amendments work equally against ALL religions, not just Catholicism.