The justices cited an article of South Carolina’s 1895 constitution. Lawyers suing the state said that provision was placed in the constitution because the writers were bigots biased against Catholics. The lawsuit came after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled against Gov. Henry McMaster, who wanted to send federal COVID-19 relief money to private schools.
Other provisions in the same constitution required Blacks to pass a test to vote and other racist measures to prevent African Americans from voting.
A decision to provide private schools with public money might also make them have to meet the same standards as public schools. The lawsuit asks the federal court to confront the racist reasoning behind the constitutional provision and decide “whether that prejudice is a permissible basis for a continuing policy whereby the state bars private schools and universities from participation in neutral grant programs when the state constitutional provision prohibiting private school participation is based on longstanding and pervasive religious and racial bigotry.”
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