Constitution Subcommittee Votes for Repeal of Blaine Amendment

A New York State Constitutional Convention subcommittee has recommended repeal of the controversial Blaine Amendment, the clause in the existing constitution which prohibits the use of public funds for church-related schools.

The report was drafted by the subcommittee on church and state of the Committee on Bill of Rights and Suffrage. It was carried in the subcommittee by a six to one vote after a series of hearings around the state. The report will be debated in the full committee before it goes to the convention which has been charged with revision of the State Constitution.

In addition to proposing repeal of the Blaine Amendment, on which organized Jewry in the state is deeply split, the proposition would make the state constitution conform to the Federal constitution. It would do so by adding a provision that “the state or any political subdivision thereof shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” A number of Federal aid to education programs, which include assistance to pupils of religious and other non-public schools, have been based on the assumption that they do not conflict with that Federal constitutional church-and-state position.

The Bill of Rights Committee of the state convention was expected to add a provision to the repeal proposal report to enable state taxpayers to bring suit to test the legality of appropriations aiding non-public schools.

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