Friday, 14 December, 2018

High Court Religious Freedom Ruling: Conclusion of MO's 147-Year Journey?

Freda Brock | 28 June, 2017, 16:55

The Supreme Court has ruled 7-2 in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church, that Missouri's denial of the church's application to have its playground resurfaced using state funds violated the Constitution by discriminating against a religious organization.

In this case, the State of Missouri had made scrap tire materials available to schools to spread over playgrounds to make them safer for children.

Missouri is one of 38 states with an amendment that states "no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion".

Chief Justice John Roberts said for the court that the state violated the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment by denying a public benefit to an otherwise eligible recipient exclusively on account of its religious status.

In a 7-2 ruling, the court held in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer that states can not prohibit churches from receiving otherwise generally available benefits based purely on their being a religious institution. Six justices joined him, while justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented and was joined by justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "Its decision slights both our precedents and our history, and its reasoning weakens this country's longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both", wrote Justice Sotomayor. Justice Gorsuch questions the majority opinion's reliance on a distinction set forth in an earlier case, Locke v. Davey, between religious identity or status, which can not be used as a basis for discrimination, and religious goal or use, which may justify differential treatment. Over 30 states have Blaine Amendments preventing religious schools from receiving any public funding, and McGinnis said school choice advocates might get support from parochial schools seeking additional funding. On April 13, Missouri governor Eric Greitens reversed his position on grants for religious organizations, calling the state's prohibition a "prejudiced policy" in a statement. Justice Thomas joined Justice Gorsuch in a concurring opinion that criticizes the majority for not going far enough to protect religious rights.

Father of LSU star pitcher revives man with no pulse at CWS
Then cleanup man Greg Deichmann tapped a grounder to first and Schwarz cut down Robertson at home plate by a few inches. It's clear: Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan is a rising star, and he has built a national power in Gainesville.

The court's ruling came in the case of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., which operates a preschool and day care learning center as part of its church ministry. Joining Roberts were Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sameul Alito and Elena Kagan in the decision to include a caveat limiting the scope of their ruling. Some critics argue using public money for religious school tuition is a violation of the Constitution's separation of church and state.

"The general principles here do not permit discrimination against religious exercise whether on the playground or anywhere else", Gorsuch said.

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions have cheered supporters of the voucher program, as Nic Garcia reported for Chalkbeat.

"That puts somewhat of an onus on the state to make sure that if we're going to have a program and we're saying that it's open to everyone, it's meant to serve all the kids in our state, then it should be a program. that includes kids that go to private and religious schools", said the group's Washington director, Rabbi Abba Cohen.

In an amicus brief, the United States bishops' conference warned that if the decision against the church had stood, it "would invite state officials to invoke those concerns as a pretext for penalizing religious groups whose beliefs or practices diverge from government-prescribed orthodoxy".

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