It’s official – again – for at least the third time. The United States Supreme Court rejected Colorado’s racist Blaine Amendment, and others like it in 36 states, with its ruling last month in Carson v. makin.
The decision authorizes local or state funds in all states to help pay tuition for children attending religious schools. This brings us closer to other developed countries, such as France, Germany, the Netherlands and many more.
The Colorado Supreme Court or any other court can no longer, under any conceivable circumstance, prevent state or local public funds from helping children attend private schools – even if they are directly owned and operated by religious institutions.
Think back to other Colorado constitutional laws that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down to end discrimination. In its 1996 decision in Romer v. Evans, the court struck down Colorado’s anti-LGBTQ amendment that barred government efforts to protect gay people from discrimination. In 2015, the court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges obsoleted an amendment Coloradans passed in 2006 that defined marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.
Last month, the court ruled against Blaine Amendments for the third time with its decision in Carson v. makin. The court ruled that Maine can no longer discriminate against sectarian schools with a program that funds non-religious private schools.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the decision was broad. As the Supreme Court blog explains, the decision clarifies once and for all “that when state and local governments choose to subsidize private schools, they must allow families to use taxpayer dollars to pay for schools. nuns”.
The blog explains that “Roberts suggested the court’s decision was a ‘trivial’ application of earlier rulings in two other recent cases (both written by Roberts): Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, in which judges ruled that the Missouri could not exclude a church from a grant program for nonprofits to install playgrounds made from recycled tires, and Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, saying that if states choose to subsidize private education, they cannot exclude private schools from receiving those funds simply because they are religious.”
It’s safe to say that this conflict is settled.
It should never have taken three Supreme Court decisions to end overt discrimination against religion, as prohibited by the First Amendment. The Blaine Amendments, supported by today’s teachers’ unions, were encouraged in the 19th and 20th centuries by the Ku Klux Klan primarily to impede Catholic efforts to educate immigrants. To date, these laws weigh heavily on low-income and minority children who might otherwise benefit from private education.
At the insistence of the Colorado Education Association under the sheer veil of a grassroots parent group, the Colorado Supreme Court applied the state’s Blaine Amendment – Section 7 – to gut the school district’s voucher program of Douglas County in 2018. The now obsolete Section 7 prohibits any government or “public corporation” from funding any educational institution “controlled by a church or sectarian society”.
“It’s safe to say Blaine is out,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, a former Colorado attorney general and former U.S. attorney. “Blaine was an anti-Catholic thing, and you can’t rely on Blaine as a way to discriminate against religious schools anymore.”
Colorado State Senator Paul Lundeen, a former member of the Colorado House Judiciary Committee, agrees with Suthers that the old law to discriminate against Catholics and immigrants is 100% dead .
“We have a failed and failing education system for over 50% of Colorado kids, and the numbers are getting worse for low-income kids and kids of color,” Lundeen said. “So now is the time to empower students and families by providing a pathway that fits their unique needs. This decision opens doors that weren’t open before.”
All of Colorado’s 178 school districts are free — no doubt — to launch voucher and scholarship programs that allow state money to follow children to Jewish day schools, Catholic kindergarten schools and colleges. through grade 12, Islamic madrassas, Naropa Buddhist University of Boulder, or any other accredited educational institution. institutions founded, financed and directed by religious institutions.
Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis favors school choice. Given a favorable legislature, Maine’s decision paves the way for a state voucher program to add sectarian schools to the freedom of education market.
All remaining legal ambiguities regarding the public funding of denominational schools have disappeared. It’s high time to help Colorado’s most disadvantaged children benefit from an education that was previously unavailable.
REPRINTED FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE
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