OU Testifies in Support of Repealing Florida's Blaine Amendment

Posted on March 29, 2011 In Press Releases

The OU submitted testimony today before the Florida House (Subcommittee on Civil Justice) in support of HB 1471, which would repeal the State’s “Blaine Amendment” which forbids state funds to any sectarian institution, even for secular purposes. Besides being out of step with the Federal constitution and US supreme Court precedent, the Florida language and its interpretation by the state’s top court continues the vile anti-Catholic bigotry that spawned Blaine. While the OU’s full testimony is attached, the OU stated, in part:

“We have always been and remain staunchly committed to a robust First Amendment in the US Constitution and its state level equivalents; in Florida’s case, Article I, Section 3. Provisions that both proscribe any establishment or favoring of religion over non-religion but that also protect religious free exercise. But we believe Blaine Amendments, and particularly Florida’s go too far.”

“Were it not for the presidential ambitions of a 19th Century Maine Congressman, James G. Blaine, who tried to ride a bigoted wave of anti-Catholic sentiment to the White House, this language would never have been inserted into the State’s constitution. The Blaine Amendment is unfair and unjust. It is, frankly, un-American. It is long past time all Floridians of good will stood shoulder to shoulder in removing this shameful reminder of state sanctioned bigotry.”

“Don’t be fooled by anything else you hear regarding HB 1471. It is about one thing and one thing only: repealing a noxious and unnecessary provision in Florida’s constitution known as the Blaine Amendment. It is noxious because it forbids any state aid to sectarian institutions, even for neutral or wholly secular purposes. And it is unnecessary because without it, every Floridian will still have protection both from state interference in religion and religious interference with the public.”

For the full text of the OU’s testimony: Click Here