Latest News and Comment from Education

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Does A Justice Kavanaugh Mean That Blaine Amendments Are History?

Does A Justice Kavanaugh Mean That Blaine Amendments Are History?
Does A Justice Kavanaugh Mean That Blaine Amendments Are History?

Last night, President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. I’ll leave it to the legal scholars to assess the broad implications of a potential Justice Kavanaugh, but I do want to look at a narrow issue that may come before the court during his tenure: Blaine Amendments.
Blaine Amendments are provisions in 38 state constitutions that bar public aid to religious organizations. They get their name from James G. Blaine, a congressman and later senator and presidential nominee from Maine who unsuccessfully attempted to amend the U.S. constitution in 1875 to include “anti-aid” language onto the end of the first amendment. Where he failed at the federal level, he and his ideological fellow travelers were successful at the state level. As a result, Blaine Amendments frequently act as state-level barriers against school choice.
It is important to note that while their language might look harmless in today’s light, at their inception, Blaine Amendments were designed to try and stamp out Catholic schools. Their use of the word “sect” or “sectarian” is the tell. Public schools at that time were nominally Protestant, with students singing hymns and reading the King James Bible in class. That was “nonsectarian” instruction. “Sectarian” meant Catholic. Interestingly, in the court’s recent 7-2 decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, the court ruled that states have a duty “not to base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint.” I'm no lawyer, but to me, Blaine Amendments do just that.
Historians debate as to whether Blaine himself was an anti-Catholic bigot or if he was simply trying to ride a wave of anti-Catholic bigotry to get himself into the White House. Either way, Blaine Amendments have a clear origin in Know-Nothingism, Nativism, anti-immigrant, and anti-Catholic ideology. It is a cruel irony that many of those who decry nativism and anti- Continue reading: Does A Justice Kavanaugh Mean That Blaine Amendments Are History?

More On The Blaine Amendments

Big Education Ape: The Public Should Pay Only for Public Schools, not Religious Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog -

Big Education Ape: Blaine Amendments Protect Religious Liberty, Prohibit Establishing Religion via School Vouchers | janresseger -

Big Education Ape: The Testing of States’ Blaine Amendments– No Public Funding of Religious Schools | deutsch29 -

Big Education Ape: Blaine Amendment Challenge in Limbo at the US Supreme Court | deutsch29 -

Big Education Ape: Ravitch: Why the Supreme Court should not force the public to pay for religious schools - The Washington Post -

Big Education Ape: The Blaine Game | Blue Cereal Education -

Big Education Ape: How a Supreme Court Ruling on Playground Covering May Open the Door to School Vouchers -

Big Education Ape: The Beginning of the End for Blaine? | Jay P. Greene's Blog -

A dig through Kavanaugh’s record on education finds plenty of material - POLITICO

A dig through Kavanaugh’s record on education finds plenty of material - POLITICO

A dig through Kavanaugh’s record on education finds plenty of material

WHAT KAVANAUGH MEANS FOR EDUCATION: D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, has considered some of the most contentious issues in education throughout his lengthy legal career. He’s written on school prayer, the separation of church and state, and affirmative action.

— Kavanaugh highlighted his connection to education during his speech Monday night, describing himself as a teacher’s son who tutors area children. He talked about his mother. "In the 1960s and ‘70s, she taught history at two largely African-American public high schools in Washington, D.C., McKinley Tech and H.D. Woodson," he said. "Her example taught me the importance of equality for all Americans."

— Kavanaugh has tutored at Washington Jesuit Academy, where he sits on the board of directors, and at J.O. Wilson Elementary School, according to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals website. He went to high school at Georgetown Prep — which Justice Neil Gorsuch also attended — and is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.

— Here’s a breakdown of Kavanaugh's education record, dug up by Pro’s Michael Stratford:

— School prayer and religious freedom: Kavanaugh wrote an amicus brief in December 1999 in favor of a Texas high school’s policy allowing the use of a public address system for student-led and student-initiated prayers at school football games. The amicus brief, on behalf of Oklahoma Republican Reps. Steve Largent and J.C. Watts, argued that the policy passed constitutional muster — an argument the Supreme Court rejected. In a 6-3 ruling, the court declared the school policy allowing prayer unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

— Affirmative action: Kavanaugh in 1999 co-wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a group that opposes race-based affirmative action in college admissions. The brief argued that a Hawaii law allowing only Native Hawaiians to vote in elections for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was unconstitutional in prohibiting people from voting because of their race. (The Supreme Court agreed with that argument in a 7-2 decision.) When asked about the brief and its implications for affirmative action in 2004 as part of his confirmation for the D.C. Circuit Court, Kavanaugh said: “The Supreme Court has decided many cases on affirmative action programs and, if confirmed, I would faithfully follow those precedents.”

— School choice: Kavanaugh said during his 2004 Senate confirmation hearing that he had previously served as the co-chairman of the Federalist Society’s “School Choice Practice Group.” Kavanaugh also said, in response to written questions, that he had “worked on school choice litigation in Florida for a reduced fee.” He didn’t provide additional details about that matter. On private school Continue reading: A dig through Kavanaugh’s record on education finds plenty of material - POLITICO