The “Blaine Amendment” was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would have deprived Catholic and other sectarian schools of direct government aid. It was named after James Blaine, the 19th century congressman from Maine who was the guiding force behind the effort. Thankfully, the amendment was never adopted nationally, although many states (often motivated by anti-Catholicism and racism) did include at least a form of it in their own constitutions.
One of those states was South Carolina, where a federal lawsuit has recently been filed by the Diocese of Charleston in conjunction with some independent colleges and universities. As an article on the Charleston diocesan web site puts it: “The lawsuit claims that the amendment has allowed discrimination to go on in the state for generations because it has unfairly caused education funding to be withheld from religious and independent schools in the state, including Catholic schools and historically black colleges and universities.”
The lawsuit further maintains that the Blaine Amendment has most recently been used to deprive Catholic and other private schools of much-needed COVID-19 relief assistance from the federal government.
All children, whether they attend a public school or not, are citizens of the United States of America. In most cases, their parents pay more than their share of taxes. These children are thus entitled to receive at least some benefits from the federal government — especially during a pandemic. We pray for those who are working to secure those benefits in South Carolina, especially the Bishop of Charleston, Robert Guglielmone. May they be successful in their efforts to eliminate a policy that is both discriminatory and unjust.
James Blaine and his amendment must finally be laid to rest — in South Carolina, and in every other state as well.