Thursday, 19 April, 2018

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

Sammy Stanley | 29 June, 2017, 08:55

The court ruled that Missouri's decision to deny TLC state funding for its church playground violated the free exercise clause.

The court ruled that the state of Missouri violated the U.S. Constitution when it barred a church-run preschool from participating in a state program that repaved playgrounds. Trinity Lutheran had ranked the fifth most qualified out of 44 applicants for the program. The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the state.

"The express discrimination against religious exercise here is not the denial of a grant", Roberts wrote, "but rather the refusal to allow the church - exclusively because it is a church - to compete with secular organizations for a grant". Justice Stephen Breyer concurred in the judgment.

His opinion included a footnote that said the court was ruling on religious discrimination "with respect to playground surfacing", not to other forms of religious discrimination in public funding. The Church applied for the grant so that it could replace the rock surface of a playground at its daycare facility with a safer surface made from recycled tires.

"While claiming to stand up for churches, the court ignores their distinct nature as centers of religious exercise".

Neither was Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote a passionate dissent in which she was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They argue that if a playground operated by a church day care is a purely secular amenity, so, too, is a church school. We are glad to see the Supreme Court move toward limiting these harmful provisions, which have restricted the freedom of faith-based organizations and people of faith to serve their communities.

"Every time I've tried to predict what the (Colorado) Supreme Court will do, I've been wrong", said Silverthorn. Currently, 37 states have Blaine Amendments in their state constitutions. His amendment was proposed, but never passed, by Congress.

RUSSELL MOORE: I'm glad this ruling insists that no American, whether religious or not, should be disadvantaged simply because of what they believe.

Catholic leaders applauded Monday's ruling. "The chief justice's majority opinion makes it clear that a state may not exclude an institution from a neutral government benefit program because of the institution's religious status".

DNC Rejected Help from Homeland Security After Russia Hacks
Johnson received several questions from the Committee on the timing of his release of information on the hacks to the public. He said he had not made and does not have the tapes about which he seemed to warn Comey last month.

It's unclear how Monday's ruling could shape future legal challenges to states' school choice programs.

A Colorado clash between gay rights and religion started as an angry Facebook posting about a wedding cake but now has big implications for anti-discrimination laws in 22 states.

Members of Congress also weighed in on the decision.

Russell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the decision as "a win for religious freedom, and for limits on the power of the state". Missouri's attorney general recused himself in the case.

A spokeswoman for the department did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The Anti-Defamation League, in conjunction with seven other groups, presented a friend-of-the-court brief going against the ruling. The decision could lead to an America "where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment", they wrote.

It's one of the first major cases to be decided since Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, took his place on the bench.

Trinity Lutheran sued in federal court, alleging that the Department's failure to approve its application violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. In Trinity Lutheran, the church was denied funding because of its religious nature, not what it proposed to do with it.

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