Document Type


Publication Date



school choice, policy, politics, Constitutionalism, Anti-Establishment Clause


James G. Blaine was a prominent American politician of the late 19th Century. Although Blaine was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for President in 1884, U.S. Secretary of State, Speaker of the House, and a Senator from Maine, his primary legacy was the enshrinement of "anti-aid" amendments in the constitutions of 39 U.S. states. These so-called "Blaine Amendments" were designed to prohibit government funds from supporting "sectarian" religious organizations such as schools and charities. In Blaine's day, "sectarian" was widely understood to be a euphemism for "Catholic". Nondenominationally Protestant organizations such as the public schools of the day were considered to be non-sectarian and entirely worthy of government support. The Blaine Amendments ensured that government-sponsored schools in the U.S. would be pervasively Protestant, at least until religion was banned from public schools in the 1960s, and that Catholic schools would have to make do without any substantial financial assistance from the government.