After two centuries of debate, discrimination, and political fights, a handful of Montana parents have succeeded in putting state constitutional Blaine Amendments squarely in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The court is now poised to settle one of the most pressing issues in American education and issue perhaps the most important education-related ruling since Brown v. Board of Education.
The road to this point has been a long one, full of twists and turns and enough unsavory politics to make even 2019 America look tame. As we approach what many pray will be a watershed moment on the question of religious discrimination in K-12 choice programs, it's worth looking back and remembering how we got here.
Although some clauses originated earlier, the main plotline of the Blaine saga began ahead of the 1876 presidential election. Civil War hero Ulysses S. Grant was president. His administration was floundering under numerous scandals, and the nation was shuddering through a severe economic downturn.