Supreme Court Justices Show Sympathy for Missouri Church in State Aid Case

by Marta Holmes April 20, 2017, 9:18
Supreme Court Justices Show Sympathy for Missouri Church in State Aid Case

Trinity Lutheran has argued that Missouri's policy violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of free exercise of religion and equal protection under the law. The Trinity case is considered a precursor to one from the Douglas County School District in Colorado. "Whether you are a Jewish, Muslim, or Christian kid, or not religious at all, when you fall down on a playground, it hurts just as much at a religious preschool as it does at a non-religious school".

"The denial was because of who the organization was", Cortman said at Wednesday's news conference.

"This is a clear burden on a constitutional right", Kagan said. Justice Sonia Sotomayor echoed Layton, saying the Missouri constitutional provision didn't interfere with the right to free exercise of religion, but rather stepped aside from involvement in religion.

Gail Schuster, director of the Trinity Lutheran Child Learning Center, said in a YouTube video about the case that the school applied to the program to provide a safe playground for the preschoolers.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg balked at that assertion, noting that the Supreme Court said long ago "in no uncertain terms that what the Framers didn't want was tax money ... to pay for building or maintaining churches or church property".

When the government refuses to allow religious organizations to apply for grants funded through taxpayers' money, by contrast, it is in no way discriminating against any religious group. A ruling for Trinity Lutheran could help open the door to states funding church-affiliated charter schools, among other consequences.

The case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday.

But whether the court will issue an expansive ruling on church-state issues or a narrow one exclusively aimed at the grant program is uncertain.

No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect or creed of religion or any form of religious faith or worship.

But the court's newest member, Neil Gorsuch wanted to know how to draw the line between when it's OK to discriminate for selective benefits and general benefits.

Greitens reversed Missouri's state policy of automatically excluding religious organizations from receiving state resources.

Iceberg tourists flock to Newfoundland town known as "iceberg alley"
It's not uncommon for Ferryland to witness icebergs floating by as the town has a ideal view of the so-called "iceberg alley". WATCH: It's shaping up to be a banner year for iceberg watchers, off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"This religious exclusion wrongfully sends a message that some children are less worthy of protection simply because they enjoy recreation on a playground owned by a church", he said.

Layton, in an interview, said he will rely most heavily on a 2004 case from Washington state when the court decided the state could deny a scholarship to a student seeking a divinity degree.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in keeping with his customary practice, did not speak or ask questions during the argument.

The Columbia church case could become a game-changing case for religious freedom. Playgrounds, he argued, were a different matter. He stressed that nothing about the policy prohibits the church from engaging in religious exercise.

Trinity Lutheran's high-profile case was finally put on the argument schedule for April, just in time for Gorsuch to perhaps cast the deciding vote.

Religious freedom expert Gregory Lipper believes that a ruling in favor of the church could produce a slippery slope.

A statute Willadson says churches should be used to by now.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources denied the application, citing a provision in the state constitution which bars the state from providing funds to religious entities. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito vigorously defended Trinity Lutheran's right to the funds, and Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared very troubled by the Missouri rule.

Justice Stephen Breyer asked whether the U.S. Constitution would permit a state to deprive churches of police protection or let them burn down.

After the arguments, Cortman was optimistic about the reception from the justices.

Missouri's new governor, Republican Eric Greitens, injected some uncertainty into the high-court case Thursday, when he directed state agencies to allow religious groups and schools to receive taxpayer money for playgrounds and other purposes. "That's just wrong", said Greitens. Both said it did not render the case moot - a position that appeared on Wednesday to be held by most of the court's justices as well.


TOP News

How will the overhaul of H-1B visas affect businesses?
In an announcement, the White House said H-1B visas should bring the highly talented and paid work to the United States . The new order would direct US agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the program .

Homophobic Conspiracy Monger Alex Jones's Lawyer Says It's All an Act
"He is a performance artist", Randall Wilhite told Judge Orlinda Naranjo, as the Austin American-Statesman reports . Jury selection is beginning today in the custody trial in Travis County, Texas, of which Austin is the county seat.

Alaskan oil well leaking gas
In 2006, a corroded pipeline released almost 5,000 barrels of crude oil, the largest oil spill in the North Slope at the time. The ADEC also said that two leaks have been identified at the well, one near the top and one further down the well assembly.

Ann Coulter vows to speak at Berkeley
For that reason, when we learned through the newspapers that you had invited Ms. News organizations obtained a copy of the letter Wednesday.

Google won't preload its apps in Russia after antitrust settlement
Under the settlement, Google can not stop smartphone makers from pre-installing competing search engine apps on their devices. While Android is an open platform, core parts of the operating system aren't, including Google's app store.

North Korean test missile explodes on launch
More directly on North Korea, the president returned to a theme of placing much onus on China for reining in the North. Tensions have been on the rise along the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks over concerns about North Korean aggression.

The latest from the Shanghai auto show
He said the brands plan to roll out a total of 10 new locally produced SUVs over the next two years. Germany-based consultancy Roland Berger forecasts annual market growth of at least 45 percent.

Kylie Jenner was 'really sad' after seeing ex-boyfriend Tyga
It was learned that Kylie lets her world revolve around Tyga that she gets distracted while working. Citing a "Jenner source", People added that Jenner and Scott previously had "a thing" of some sort.

Tuesday weather: Showers likely, thunderstorms possible
The day should be mostly cloudy with a high near 77, the National Weather Service says. Once the fog clears we'll have mostly sunny skies and the chance to hit 70 degrees.

Here's What Hillary Clinton Said After Learning She'd Lost to TrumPutin
Steve Schale , among the most reliable Democratic strategists in the state, informed Clinton's campaign they were short on votes. Clinton eventually did apologize to the public in August 2015, six months after the server issue was first brought to light.