State Blaine Amendments: Origins, history, and education policy implications following <i>Mitchell</i>, <i>Zelman</i>, and <i>Locke</i>
My study examined the implications for state legislatures, courts, and educational policy makers of the 2004 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Locke v. Davey as it applies to state “Blaine Amendments.” The Locke decision upheld the denial of a Promise Scholarship to Joshua Davey because he chose to declare a major in preparation for Christian ministry. Davey’s supporters argued that the denial of the scholarship represented discrimination against religion based on the Article I, Section 11 of the Washington constitution; a so-called “Blaine Amendment.” Blaine Amendments are found in at least thirty state constitutions, and Blaine opponents argue that these clauses are legacies of Nineteenth Century anti-Catholic hostility and should be declared unconstitutional. Many state constitutions contain Blaine language, and those clauses often influence state funding programs such as school voucher programs and faith-based initiatives, therefore, the Court’s determination that the Washington clause in question was not a “Blaine Amendment” despite using Blaine language has important implications for state policy makers.
In light of Locke, I examined all 169 state constitutions written between 1776 and 1920, as well as the fifty modern state constitutions to identify those with Blaine language. Second I analyzed the history of the Blaine Amendments, the wording of the amendments, constitutional debate at the time of adoption, patterns of ratification, and other factors that may shed light on the legislative intent behind these clauses. Third, I demonstrated that while there was significant anti-Catholic hostility animating the Blaine period, numerous other, constitutionally legitimate, issues and goals also informed the adoption of those clauses.
Finally, I argue that, as a result of the Locke decision, the Blaine Amendment controversy must now devolve to the states, and that advocates on both sides of the Blaine debate will ultimately need to fight state-by-state challenges because the constitutionality of these clauses will depend largely on the circumstances of adoption in each state and specifically whether an identifiable legacy of anti-Catholic bias can be attributed to legislative intent in adopting the clause in the past as well as in modern state constitutions.
0520: Education history
0615: Political science
0745: Higher education