Press Release

Anti-Religious Amendment Before Colorado Court of Appeals Blaine Amendment Used to Deny Children School Choice–Becket Fund Fights Back

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Becket Law filed an amicus brief in Douglas County School District v. Larue, which will decide the legality of Colorado’s Choice Scholarship Program.  The program lets low-income families send their children to private schools of their choice and avoid failing public schools.  The district court struck down the program, ruling that a 19th-century anti-Catholic provision in the Colorado Constitution known as a “Blaine Amendment” barred using scholarships at “sectarian” schools.

“Blaine Amendments are relics of an ugly past when many laws openly made Catholics second-class citizens,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for Becket Law.  “They have no more place in today’s legal system than old laws that discriminate against someone on the basis of race or sex.”

Blaine Amendments are provisions in dozens of state constitutions that prohibit the use of state funds at “sectarian” schools.  They have an ugly history.  Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, our nation endured a rash of anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant bigotry. This “Know-Nothing” movement—decried at the time by Abraham Lincoln and in modern times by the U.S. Supreme Court—unleashed a spasm of religious discrimination at war with our traditions of religious liberty.  Its legacy persists to this day in the form of “Blaine Amendments,” provisions adopted in numerous state constitutions in the late 1800s and early 1900s that were designed to suppress Catholic schools in favor of Protestant-dominated public schools.

“Not only are Blaine Amendments outdated, they are unfair,” said Duncan.  “Children who attend religious schools should be able to apply for state scholarships on the same terms as everyone else.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket Fund attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at or 202.349.7224. 

Becket Law is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. Its recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings in Holt v. Hobbs and Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.” ‘