Justices appear sympathetic to Missouri church seeking playground improvements


In 2012, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Mo., asked for help from Missouri's Scrap Tire Grant program. Several organizations of Christian schools at the rally hoped for a broad Supreme Court decision, striking down Missouri's ban on state funding for religious institutions - a ban similar to policies in more than 30 other states. The DNR cited the state constitution, which bans money from going "directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion".

The long-awaited Supreme Court arguments in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer - which the court initially agreed to hear more than a year ago - tilted heavily in favor of the church on Wednesday.

Furthermore, Kupec said, over 90 percent of the children who attend the preschool don't go to the church, and the playground is open to the public after hours and on the weekend.

NY has, over the decades, chipped away at its Blaine Amendment; a 1967 ruling by the state's highest court rightly upheld a program requiring school boards to loan textbooks to all students, public, private and religious - because the program was "meant to bestow a public benefit upon all school children, regardless of their school affiliations".

Last week the newly elected Republican governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens, made a decision to change the state's long-standing policy on aid programs like this one - blaming "government bureaucrats" for the previous policy. They enlisted the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious right-wing legal counsel, to represent them in this case.

The case, which examines the limits of religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution, is one of the most important before the court in its current term. But Neil Gorsuch, the justice nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by a divided Senate, has become the ninth justice, filling the court. The question before the court is whether it violates the Free Exercise Clause to bar churches from participating in the program.

He argues that we as a society have given religious institutions many special benefits and exemptions from laws that apply to everyone else to prevent the government from interfering with religion.

Blaine Amendment provisions are now found in the constitutions of 37 U.S. And play should be safe; safety shouldn't hinge on whether a child is religious or they are playing on a playground at a religious school or at a secular or public institution.

Three-quarters of the US states have provisions similar to Missouri's barring funding for religious entities. As a result, petitioner Trinity Lutheran Church has received all the substantive relief that it sought in its complaint.

Elena Kagan, a far-left advocate who was appointed by Barack Obama, said, "This is a clear burden on a constitutional right", pointing out that for such a restriction to survive, the state's interest must be "extremely high".

The legal nonprofit contends in the case that based upon the First Amendment the government can not exclude religious organizations from government programs that provide purely non-religious benefits. "I don't think I can join that group, considering my kid fell out of the monkey bars and broke her arm", one tourist said. "So, today we are changing that prejudiced policy", the governor stated.

The case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday. This program offers funds from the state to pay for educational tools.

"They met the criteria, in fact, the state ranked them as one of the higher applications", says Dr. Kevin Pybas, a professor at Missouri State University and Church vs. Wednesday's argument date was finally set February 17, shortly afterGorsuch's nomination.

It urged the court to dismiss or remand Trinity's case to a lower court of appeals.

She responded to an announcement from the state's new governor, Eric Greitens, that religious groups will now be eligible for grants from the state's department of natural resources.

"In essence, the church is arguing that states can't specifically exempt religious organizations from grant programs that it chooses to provide", said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law. ADF is representing the church before the court. "Money is fungible, and a dollar saved on capital improvements is an extra dollar that can be spend for religious teaching, salaries for church staff, or other religious purposes", said Missouri's James Layton.