South Carolina privates sue over provision denying them public funds

Apr 17, 2021 by

South Carolina private colleges are challenging a state constitutional amendment prohibiting public funding for religious or other private educational institutions.

Elizabeth Redden
Jeff Perez, president and CEO of the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, speaks Wednesday about a lawsuit challenging a state prohibition on public funds for private colleges.

A lawsuit filed in federal district court argues that a provision of the South Carolina state constitution that bars public funds from being used for the “direct benefit” of religious or other private educational institutions should be struck down because it was born out of racist and anti-Catholic animus.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this week, argues that the amendment, which dates to 1895 and was revised in 1972, was “born in bigotry.” It argues the amendment “reflected the ugly marriage of two prejudices: religious bigotry against immigrant Catholics then coming to America’s shores and racial prejudice against newly freed slaves whose lives, living conditions, and educational opportunities were being improved by religious missionary organizations.”

South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, an association that represents 20 private colleges and universities, joined with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, which operates 33 K-12 schools, in challenging what’s known as the Blaine Amendment. The colleges contend that the amendment has caused them to lose out on millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funds that were funneled through the state government for distribution.

Source: South Carolina privates sue over provision denying them public funds

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