10:53, June 26 387 0 abajournal.com

2017-06-26 10:53:04
Supreme Court rules for church that wanted state grant to resurface playground

The state violated the free exercise clause when it denied a qualified religious entity a public benefit solely because of its religious character, Roberts said. “The exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution,” Roberts wrote, “and cannot stand.”

Trinity Lutheran Church had sought to resurface its preschool playground with scrap tire material using money from a state grant program. The playground is used by the students as well as the surrounding community, and the church had argued it would provide a “wholly secular benefit” with the month.

Missouri turned down the church’s funding application because of a provision in its state constitution that says, “No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion.”

Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan joined Roberts’ opinion in full. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch joined the opinion in full, except for a footnote that reads,” This case involves express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing. We do not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination.” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote an opinion concurring in the judgment.

The case is Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri v. Pauley.

Related articles:

ABAJournal.com: “Justices appear sympathetic to Missouri church seeking playground improvements”

ABAJournal.com: “Is church entitled to state aid to buy playground covering?”

ABAJournal.com: “Chemerinsky: Is court delaying some oral arguments in hopes of 9th justice?”

ABAJournal.com: “State’s denial of funds for church playground will be considered by SCOTUS”