Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, May 20, 2019

19th century Blaine Amendments impede school choice today

George Will's latest article at National Review does a great job summarizing the history of the Blaine Amendments, which were inherently anti-Catholic and written to prevent public funding of Catholic schools during the wave of Catholic immigration in the 19th century. The state of Montana adopted its own Blaine Amendment in 1889 and readopted in its 1972 constitution. It reads: There shall be no “direct or indirect appropriation or payment” of public monies “for any sectarian purpose” or to aid any institution “controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination.”

In 2015, Montana's legislature enacted legislation providing a small tax credit of up to $150 for individuals or businesses donating to private, nonprofit scholarship organizations that award scholarships for children to attend private schools. Montana’s Department of Revenue issued a rule forbidding recipients from using their scholarships at religious schools per its Blaine Amendment, and the Montana Supreme Court has upheld the rule.

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear an appeal from Montana's high court. 


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