This week the Senate Committee on General Laws held a public hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal one of Missouri’s so-called “Blaine” amendments. SJR 47 is sponsored by state Sen. Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville).
Missouri’s Blaine amendments are some of the strictest in the nation and have been cited by courts to deny many secular services to non-public school children such as textbooks and bus transportation.
A constitutional lawyer from the Freedom Center of Missouri, Dave Roland, gave committee members a brief account of the sordid history of anti-Catholic and Know-Nothing sentiment that led to the adoption of Blaine amendments in the 1870s. He said passage of SJR 47 would allow the general assembly to consider enacting programs that assist all school children so long as those programs comply the church-state requirements of the First Amendment.
The MCC’s general counsel Tyler McClay also testified in favor of SJR 47. The committee took no action on the legislation.