Following the Supreme Court's 2002 ruling that allowed religious schools to be included in state voucher programs, voucher proponents hit another snag—37 state constitutions. Constitutions with so-called Blaine amendments—passed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries largely because of widespread anti-Catholicism—require a stricter separation of church and state than the federal Constitution. Many specifically forbid the use of state money for religious schooling. However, last December the Supreme Court heard a case that many hoped would throw out these Blaine amendments.
The case focuses on Joshua Davey, who had qualified for Washington State's Promise Scholarship for low-income, high achieving students. When Davey enrolled at Northwest College, which is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, he was told that he was no longer eligible for the scholarship because he had chosen a theology major. Though the scholarship is available for other areas of study at the school, theology students are prohibited because of the state's Blaine amendment.
Some had hoped the Supreme Court would rule in favor of Davey and declare all 37 states' Blaine amendments unconstitutional. Not only would Davey receive the nearly $2,500 Promise Scholarship for which he had sued, but voucher programs and President Bush's faith-based initiative would be freed from Blaine states' stricter wall of separation.
Davey denied Last month, the Supreme Court denied Davey's claim that Washington state denied his right to the free exercise of religion. In its opinion, the Court said the case fell in the "play in the joints" between the free exercise of religion and the establishment of religion. "There are some state actions permitted by the Establishment Clause ...1
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