The U.S. Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer is a reason to celebrate for education choice advocates. The decision deals a blow to one of the biggest obstacles to school choice efforts – state Blaine amendments.
While the Court looked at the narrow question of whether the state could exclude churches from state programs that have secular intent –specifically the denial of a playground resurfacing grant to a religious preschool – many education choice advocates see the decision as opening the door for an additional legal question: must a state Blaine amendment keep a student from using a state scholarship on an educational choice program simply because it’s a religious school?
For too long state Blaine amendments – remnants of anti-Catholic bigotry, which prohibit public funding from going to religious institutions – have kept educational options out of reach for students that need them. We believe the Trinity decision should embolden education choice efforts.
We hope the Supreme Court continues to see the religious liberty limitations of the state Blaine amendments, and we hope such decisions create additional protections for improved education choice for students across the nation.