F. Elwood and Eleanor Davis Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School
07/24/2008 - In June 2008, a church-state watchdog organization and several other groups filed a lawsuit in Florida seeking to remove from the state's November ballot two proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution.
The proposed amendments, if passed, would eliminate legal obstacles that currently prevent Florida from funding religious schools. One of the proposed amendments would permit parents to use state-funded vouchers to send their children to private schools in Florida, including religious schools. The other amendment would repeal a Florida state constitutional provision that prohibits public funding of religious organizations.
More than two-thirds of the states have similar constitutional provisions restricting state aid to religious organizations; these state constitutional provisions are collectively known as the Blaine Amendments. To understand how the Blaine Amendments affect government funding of religious organizations, the Forum turns to church-state scholar Ira "Chip" Lupu.
Ira "Chip" Lupu, F. Elwood and Eleanor Davis Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School
Jesse Merriam, Research Associate, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Question & Answer:
Q: What are the Blaine Amendments?
A: The Blaine Amendments owe their name to James G. Blaine, who in 1875, as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, proposed a U.S. constitutional amendment prohibiting states from funding religious education. After Blaine’s proposed amendment failed to become part of the U.S. Constitution, 36 states passed their own constitutional amendments barring state funding of religious organizations, including religious schools. These state constitutional amendments are collectively known as the Blaine Amendments.
Read the full transcript Controversy Over the Blaine Amendments and Public Funding of Religion on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.