Supreme Court rules for Missouri church in playground case

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"The court today profoundly changes that relationship by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church", she added.

Missouri's state constitution, similar to those of about three dozen states, directs that "no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion".

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The Missouri recycling program was not available to all applicants.

Two of the court's most conservative members argued that the decision should be applied more broadly and did not join the part of the opinion limiting its application to the playground resurfacing. The state awarded 14 grants that year.

But Roberts wrote: "The department's policy expressly discriminates against otherwise eligible recipients by disqualifying them from a public benefit exclusively due to their religious character".

Chief Justice Roberts dealt with the matter in straightforward fashion.

In a decision that could have an implication for Idaho schools, the Supreme Court has sided with a Missouri church that sought a share of state funding.

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Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, refused to endorse that footnote.

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion saying the court had swept away legal precedents that allow for limits on state funding of churches. "Such a reading would be unreasonable for our cases are 'governed by general principles, rather than ad hoc improvisations". "Today's decision means discrimination of this kind will never be permitted again in the state of Missouri, or anywhere", Hawley also said.

"Public benefits come in many shapes and sizes", he wrote. Its lawyers argued that the state's action constituted religious discrimination in violation of the federal Constitution's Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses.

"School vouchers exist in states all across the country and other states are trying to implement them", says McShane. "The court's ruling, however, focuses specifically on grants for playground resurfacing, and does not give the government unlimited authority to fund religious activity", Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said in a statement.

Voucher advocates believe that line of reasoning opens the way for the high court to rule in favor of allowing public funds to flow to parochial schools. The fact that the program at issue ultimately funds only a limited number of projects can not itself justify a religious distinction. The court said the state could not refuse to provide funds to a nonprofit just because it was a church. I don't see why it should matter whether we describe that benefit, say, as closed to Lutherans (status) or closed to people who do Lutheran things (use).

"In the end, the soundness of today's decision may matter less than what it might enable tomorrow", Justice Sotomayor wrote. "We do not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination". The high court could now agree to hear that case, or could return the case to the Colorado court with directions to reconsider it in light of the Trinity decision.

It was finally argued in April, soon after Justice Gorsuch joined the court, and it was easily the most important case of his freshman term. Supreme Court on Monday ripped up bigoted, state-level arguments for withholding taxpayer support from religious schools. Citing various cases, Justice Roberts explained what this later clause entails, "The Free Exercise Clause "protect [s] religious observers against unequal treatment" and subjects to the strictest scrutiny laws that target the religious for "special disabilities" based on their "religious status'".

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