During a May speech to an organization affiliated with the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos criticized the no-aid provisions in the majority of state constitutions that protect church-state separation and religious freedom by ensuring taxpayers aren't forced to fund religious entities.
No-aid provisions, which opponents inaccurately call "Blaine amendments" after a late-19th-century U.S. senator (and Republican presidential nominee), are often the target of private school voucher proponents like DeVos because they ensure that public money funds only public schools not private, predominantly religious schools.
"These Blaine provisions prohibit taxpayer funding of 'sectarian' ... activities," DeVos said in a May 16 speech to the Alfred E. Smith Foundation in New York City. DeVos implied these amendments are the product of 19th-century anti-Catholicism, and asserted that their main purpose was to prevent public funding of private Catholic schools.
Referencing the 2017 Supreme Court decision in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer that determined a Missouri church was eligible to apply for a taxpayer-funded grant to resurface its preschool playground, DeVos said, "There's hope that Blaine amendments won't be around much longer. These amendments should be assigned to the ash heap of history...."
Americans United was quick to point out DeVos' errors.
"Like with many things, Betsy Devos...