SCOTUS Rules Religious School Can Use Taxpayer Dollars To Resurface Playground

Reuters

Reuters

But only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined it. Astonishingly, both Obama's other nominee, Elena Kagan, and the Clinton nominee Stephen Breyer joined Roberts to vote to require Missouri to provide the funding.

Sotomayor, who read a portion of her dissent from the bench, said the ruling "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".

Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a strong dissent - and said Monday's decision "profoundly changes" the relationship between church and state.

The state said its decision not to give the church any money was based on a provision of the Missouri Constitution that explicitly prohibits using public money to aid a religious institution. Especially since on Monday, CBS chose to report on the 20lb live lobster TSA found inside someone's checked bag instead of the church's win over the state.

The Missouri recycling program was not available to all applicants.

"If this separation [of church and state] means anything, it means that the government can not, or at the very least need not, tax its citizens and turn that money over to houses of worship", Sotomayor wrote.

In a footnote, he underscored the limitations of the case saying it involved "express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing" and that it "did not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination".

Because Blaine Amendments segregate religious institutions from public programs, they violate the First Amendment's guarantee of religious neutrality and the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.

The Supreme Court wrapped its sessionMonday morning, but before the justices' summer recess, the Court made major announcements on three high-profile cases - two of which the Court will take up in the fall.

"Such a reading would be unreasonable for our cases are 'governed by general principles, rather than ad hoc improvisations, '" he wrote, quoting an earlier decision.

"And the general principles", Gorsuch wrote, "here do not permit discrimination against religious exercise - whether on the playground or anywhere else". But that freedom comes at the cost of automatic and absolute exclusion from the benefits of a public program for which the Center is otherwise fully qualified. "I would leave the application of the Free Exercise Clause to other kinds of public benefits for another day". Playgrounds, he argued, were a different matter.

As Vox's Dara Lind notes, by the time the Court hears the case against the travel ban when sessions resume in October, "the 90-day ban will likely have been completed - potentially replaced by a longer, indefinite ban on entries from countries that don't provide enough information to the United States". "It is wholly secular", the church said. And when the State conditions a benefit in this way, McDaniel says plainly that the State has punished the free exercise of religion: "'To condition the availability of benefits. upon [a recipient's] willingness to. surrender his religiously impelled [status] effectively penalizes the free exercise of his constitutional liberties'".

Roberts added in the conclusion of the Court's decision that the exclusion of Trinity from a public benefit because of its religious character was "odious to the Constitution".

The case is Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, 15-577.

The hearing was delayed, however, and some suspect the justices were waiting for a full court press-for the appointment of a ninth justice to replace Antonin Scalia following the justice's death.

The case has been pending for a very long time.

The court stressed that this case was unlike Locke v. Davey, a 2004 court ruling which said federally funded scholarships were not required to go to college students who were receiving divinity degrees.

"This is going to encourage people to look at it again", said Rob Winslow, executive director of the Idaho Association of School Administrators, which opposed a 2016 attempt to chip away at the Blaine Amendment.

Chief Justice Roberts dealt with the matter in straightforward fashion. "If the cases just described make one thing clear, it is that such a policy imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion that triggers the most exacting scrutiny".

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