Supreme Court playground ruling feeds school voucher debate


The playground case dates back to 2012 when the church filed suit after it was denied block funding despite placing fifth among 44 applicants based on other criteria.

As Chief Justice Roberts summed things up near the end of his majority opinion for six justices, "the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, exclusively because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution".

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other proponents of school voucher programs are praising a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said a Lutheran church was wrongly denied a state grant for its preschool playground. The money comes from a fee paid by anyone who buys a new tire.

"The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion".

John McGinnis, a professor of constitutional law at Northwestern University, said the church made its case "by appealing to a very general principal under the bill of rights".

Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan agreed entirely, while Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch agreed except for the footnote. Six justices joined him, while justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented and was joined by justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

According to the court, the Department "puts Trinity Lutheran to a choice: It may participate in an otherwise available benefit program or remain a religious institution".

"I call churches getting public money when there isn't enough to go to PUBLIC schools pretty vengeful", Elie Mystal, "Above the Law" editor wrote.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a playground owned by a Lutheran church can receive a subsidy from a state programme.

"A ruling against this preschool would have had far-reaching consequences for Americans".

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with a church that objected to being denied public money in Missouri, potentially lessening America's separation of church and state by allowing governments more leeway to fund religious entities directly. "We will continue to work together with these organizations to help the people of Missouri".

"This Court has repeatedly confirmed that denying a generally available benefit exclusively on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion", Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority decision. And the court could take steps soon to telegraph whether that's true: Since 2015, it has been holding onto a case involving a voucher program in Douglas County, Colo., which the Colorado Supreme Court found violated a state ban on using public funds for religious purposes. "Churches and others who practice their faith are not second-class citizens but have the right to participate equally and fully in the life of our nation". The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), led by Senior Counsel David Cortman, represented the Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri.

"We are proud of the role that OU Advocacy has played in creating the various state aid programs and its role in today's high court ruling affirming their constitutionality", said President of the Orthodox Union Mark Bane in a statement.