A state court ruling that barred church-linked schools from a taxpayer-funded program that lends textbooks to students is being re-evaluated after the U.S. Supreme Court said the restriction is unconstitutional.
The new review is before the New Mexico Supreme Court, which earlier held that the state’s Instructional Materials Law was subject to the state constitution’s Blaine Amendment, which provides that no funds “appropriated, levied or collected for educational purposes, shall be used for the support of any sectarian, denominational or private school.”
Such amendments are common and date to the 19th century when states were fearful that immigrant Catholics would surge in population. The laws remain in some states.
But following them can be problematic now, since the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in the Trinity Lutheran case that states cannot arbitrarily exclude religious schools from programs for the public benefit.