Kansas

Kansas

Despite having a Blaine Amendment, Kansas has always been a hospitable constitutional environment for educational choice programs, including vouchers, education savings accounts, and tax credits. As its Blaine Amendment, Article 6, Section 6(c), only prohibits a religious sect from “control[ling] any part of the public educational funds,” programs governed by true private choice are not constitutionally restricted. The Espinoza decision reinforces the state’s existing constitutional architecture supporting educational choice.

Constitutional Provisions
Compelled Support Clause
“[N]or shall any person be compelled to attend or support any form of worship ….” Kansas Const. Bill of Rights § 7.

Blaine Amendment
“No religious sect or sects shall control any part of the public educational funds.” Kansas Const. Art. 6, § 6(c).

Education Article
“Local public schools under the general supervision of the state board of education shall be maintained, developed and operated by locally elected boards. When authorized by law, such boards may make and carry out agreements for cooperative operation and administration of educational programs under the general supervision of the state board of education, but such agreements shall be subject to limitation, change or termination by the legislature.” Kansas Const. Art. 6, § 5

Relevant Case Law
2004 Kansas Att’y Gen. Op. 2004-5 (Mar. 19, 2004)
The Kansas Constitution does not prohibit government aid to students attending sectarian schools where the aid benefits the student in a religiously neutral program.

Americans United for Separation of Church & State v. Bubb, 379 F. Supp. 872 (D. Kan. 1974)
A federal district court held that a state statute providing tuition to students attending qualified private universities, where all the qualified schools in the state were church-related, had the valid secular purpose of promoting higher education, did not primarily advance religion because the colleges were not overtly sectarian, and did not overly entangle the state with religion.

Atchison, T. & S. F. R. Co. v. Atchison, 28 P. 1000 (Kan. 1892)
The Kansas Supreme Court held that the city of Atchison had no power to impose a property tax on its citizens to aid private, sectarian schools or to promote private interests and enterprises.

Existing Private School Choice Programs
Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program
K.S.A. §§ 72-4531 through 4357

What You've Heard About Blaine Amendments

Blaine Amendments are controversial state constitutional provisions rooted in 19th century anti-Catholic bigotry. Their original purpose was to prevent the government from funding Catholic schools while preserving funding for America’s nascent “common” schools, which were predominantly Protestant and often inhospitable to Catholics. For decades, opponents of educational choice have employed Blaine Amendments—found in 37 state constitutions—as blunt weapons to impede and invalidate educational choice programs. However, thanks to a decades-long legal strategy tenaciously pursued by IJ, these state constitutional obstacles to educational freedom are now largely a dead letter.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2002, in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, that the federal Constitution allows states to empower parents to choose religious and nonreligious schools alike when participating in educational choice programs so long as the state remains religiously neutral and parents exercise true private choice. But Zelman left open the question of whether the constitution would permit a state to exclude religious options from an educational choice program. On June 30, 2020, in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court answered that open question and held that the federal Constitution forbids states from excluding religious schools as options for families participating in educational choice programs, including through Blaine Amendments.

The federal Constitution, wrote Chief Justice Roberts for the Espinoza majority, “condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them. They are members of the community too, and their exclusion from [Montana’s] scholarship program here is odious to our Constitution and cannot stand.” The Supreme Court’s holding was clear and unambiguous—and it applies to every state: While a “State need not subsidize private education[,] . . . once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

As a result of Espinoza, nearly every state is free to enact programs that will empower parents to choose the educational environment that is best for their own children. Of course, each state has a unique history, context, and constitutional provisions. That is why IJ has produced this 50-state guide. The guide analyzes each state’s constitution in light of Espinoza and explains how the ruling impacts policymakers’ ability to enact educational choice programs.

What You Need to Know After Espinoza

Blaine Amendments are controversial state constitutional provisions rooted in 19th century anti-Catholic bigotry. Their original purpose was to prevent the government from funding Catholic schools while preserving funding for America’s nascent “common” schools, which were predominantly Protestant and often inhospitable to Catholics. For decades, opponents of educational choice have employed Blaine Amendments—found in 37 state constitutions—as blunt weapons to impede and invalidate educational choice programs. However, thanks to a decades-long legal strategy tenaciously pursued by IJ, these state constitutional obstacles to educational freedom are now largely a dead letter.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2002, in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, that the federal Constitution allows states to empower parents to choose religious and nonreligious schools alike when participating in educational choice programs so long as the state remains religiously neutral and parents exercise true private choice. But Zelman left open the question of whether the constitution would permit a state to exclude religious options from an educational choice program. On June 30, 2020, in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court answered that open question and held that the federal Constitution forbids states from excluding religious schools as options for families participating in educational choice programs, including through Blaine Amendments.

The federal Constitution, wrote Chief Justice Roberts for the Espinoza majority, “condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them. They are members of the community too, and their exclusion from [Montana’s] scholarship program here is odious to our Constitution and cannot stand.” The Supreme Court’s holding was clear and unambiguous—and it applies to every state: While a “State need not subsidize private education[,] . . . once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

As a result of Espinoza, nearly every state is free to enact programs that will empower parents to choose the educational environment that is best for their own children. Of course, each state has a unique history, context, and constitutional provisions. That is why IJ has produced this 50-state guide. The guide analyzes each state’s constitution in light of Espinoza and explains how the ruling impacts policymakers’ ability to enact educational choice programs.

Select Your State

Program Status
All Educational Choice Programs
Only Tax Credit and ESA Programs
Educational Choice Programs Unavailable

For More Information

Read Our Model Education Legislation


Contact IJ's Educational Choice Team

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