CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A federal lawsuit has been filed to remove what religious schools and independent colleges say is a racist and bigoted amendment from the state’s constitution.
A special coalition – formed of these establishments – held a press conference in Greenville on Wednesday where they wanted the post-Civil War “Blaine Amendment” to be struck from South Carolina’s state constitution.
According to the Liberty Justice Center, it was named after U.S. Congressman James G. Blaine of Maine, but never received enough votes to be adopted into the U.S. Constitution.
South Carolina, however, added the provision to its 1895 constitution to “suppress the education of newly freed slaves and to enable discrimination against Catholic immigrants.”
They say the provision blocks independent and religious students, families, and schools from receiving any public funding.
The Liberty Justice Center says the provision has perpetuated discrimination against African Americans and Catholics by unfairly withholding education funding for independent schools in the state.
And more recently, the groups say it has been used by the South Carolina Education Association and its allies to deny students and schools access to federal COVID relief funds.
“The lawsuit filed today seeks to end this discrimination against non-public schools and students. Attorneys have asked the court for a prompt order that would bar state officials from using the Blaine Amendment to block COVID funds from going to non-public schools,” the Liberty Justice Center stated.
“This appeal to our state’s courts is not only to, at long last, expunge the anti-Catholic and racist sentiment that still haunts our past. It is about creating a more inclusive, uplifting future for parents and children who seek an education that best fits their values and needs of their students,” said Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone, Bishop of Charleston. “Many families have been significantly hurt by the COVID pandemic and they should not be denied financial assistance based on where they desire to send their children to school.”
The lawsuit was filed by Bishop of Charleston, a Corporation Sole, dba Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, on behalf of its 33 K-12 schools throughout the State of South Carolina.
South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, a nonprofit organization that represents 20 of the state’s independent universities and colleges, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.