Florida Looks to Lead the Way in Ending Blaine's Education Bigotry

According to the Washington Post, voters in Florida have a chance to remove the bigoted Blaine Amendment from their state constitution. The Post points out that the Blaine Amendment has been used in different states to discriminate against certain kinds of educational opportunities:

Patricia Levesque, the commission member who pushed to add the measure, said she acted because a 2004 appeals court decision cited the Blaine Amendment while striking down then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s effort to allow students in failing schools to enroll in parochial and other private schools at public expense.

Independence Institute senior fellow Krista Kafer, while she still worked at the Heritage Foundation in 2003, noted the background that put the offensive Blaine Amendments in 37 states (including Colorado):

Vestiges of an anti-Catholic movement, these provisions are named after Congressman James Blaine of Maine for his efforts to add such language to the U.S. Constitution. In the mid-nineteenth century, anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant bigotry found expression in American institutions and politics. The emerging public schools were commonly Protestant in character, requiring, for example, the reading of the Protestant King James Version of the Bible in classrooms. Efforts to secure funding for Catholic schools were resisted. After the Civil War, a new wave of anti-Catholicism found a friend in U.S. Representative James Blaine of Maine, who hoped to prevent the funding of “sectarian” institutions through the adoption of a Constitutional amendment. Although he failed, his efforts and those of similarly minded individuals are felt in thirty-seven states (but not Maine).

I’m watching from Colorado and rooting – like Mike Petrilli on the Flypaper blog – that Florida does the right thing and gets rid of the awful Blaine Amendment.