In Church-State Playground Brawl, Justices Lean Toward The Church

Should public money go for that? Ginsburg asked whether that precedent was "passé".

The Missouri Attorney General's Office has recused itself from handling a U.S. Supreme Court case due to a conflict of interest. As I posted earlier in this preview, the case could significantly impact church-state law with regard to government funding of houses of worship.

That prospect worries groups of public-school teachers and others who oppose vouchers and other forms of public aid for private schooling.

The Missouri case is an attempt to lower that wall separating church and state. The Supreme Court has upheld similar funding prohibitions in the past, but here the church insists that its school was denied funding exclusively on account of its religious status - and that the funds it sought for tire scraps should've been granted because they wouldn't be used for religious instruction.

Gorsuch said the one thing that everyone in the case agrees upon is that the church was subject to discrimination by being told it could not participate in the program, which reimburses those that resurface their playgrounds through a state program that recycles old tires.

Those are legitimate objectives for the state in avoiding an unconstitutional entanglement with religion, Layton argued.

David Cortman, a lawyer for the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the church in the case, argued "that it is not rational to categorically exclude churches from neutral and otherwise generally available public benefit programs when their objectives and practical impact are entirely secular".

Justice Sotomayor pressed Cortman to explain how the church's free exercise of religion was being unconstitutionally violated, as it would not close its doors just because it had not received a reimbursement for the playground surface.

A 2004 Supreme Court decision, Locke v. Davey, allowed Washington state to offer college scholarships to all students except those pursuing a degree in devotional theology.

The church distinguishes its case from Locke v. Davey, arguing that the state funds in that instance were used to fund the religious training of clergy.

Missouri has a competitive grant program for organizations to improve their playgrounds.

If the Supreme Court were to rule against the church, its supporters say, that could give states justification to deny funds for other services, ranging from police and fire protection to soup kitchens and battered women's shelters.

The release went on to say Jim Layton, the former Missouri Solicitor General under Chris Koster, will represent the Department of Natural Resources going forward in this case and in the oral argument on Wednesday. "We believe that the First Amendment guarantees our religious freedom and it doesn't mean that any particular group should be singled out for worse treatment". The state funded 14 of the applicants, but not Trinity Lutheran.

Greitens' decision is a unsafe threat to religious freedom.

"State money could not be used to actually erect or operate or provide that kind of physical addition to a church or synagogue", Layton responded.

NY has, over the decades, chipped away at its Blaine Amendment; a 1967 ruling by the state's highest court rightly upheld a program requiring school boards to loan textbooks to all students, public, private and religious - because the program was "meant to bestow a public benefit upon all school children, regardless of their school affiliations".

Three-quarters of the USA states have provisions similar to Missouri's barring funding for religious entities.

A challenge to a 2015 court decision invalidating a Colorado voucher programme is pending before the justices, awaiting the Trinity Lutheran case's outcome.

Kagan endorsed those state provisions, however, arguing that because the conflicting concerns of discrimination and illegal state support of a church is a fraught and hard issue, there is "something attractive" about states having the right to decide for themselves. Wednesday's argument date was finally set February 17, shortly afterGorsuch's nomination. But there are questions over whether the nine justices will end up deciding the merits of the case after Missouri's Republican governor, Eric Greitens, last Thursday reversed the state policy that banned religious entities from applying for the funds. Reacting Friday to Greitens' last minute policy change, the Supreme Court wanted to hear from both sides if the state's reversal of policy affected the case. But this argument is incomplete: religious organizations benefit from all sorts of tax breaks, and the programs they run directly - even ones which don't seem obviously "religious" - are often categorized as part of their "ministry" in order to take advantage of those.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

Man accused of stealing more than 100 cellphones at Coachella
Devices were returned to owners who had already discovered their phones were missing, while the rest wait to be collected. Ronaldo De Jesus Henao has a much more specific talent: He's apparently very, very good at stealing smartphones.

Mountain lion suspected of snatching dog from family's bedroom
The dog's carcass has not been found, but bloodstains were found near the door - the lone signs of an intruder, Fought told CBS. Neighbors have been warned to be especially wary of mountain lions after one displayed such boldness.

Rain, thunderstorms in forecast as the weekend approaches
There will be a slight chance of rain in Fontana on Tuesday , April 18, according to the National Weather Service . There's a chance for thunderstorms after 2 p.m., and southwest wind will blow between 8 and 11 miles per hour .

With Rajon Rondo at the controls, Chicago Bulls are running and gunning
The Jazz played without center Rudy Gobert , who was ruled out of the game and questionable for Game 3 with a left knee sprain. Utah closed within three points early in the third on a basket by Derrick Favors, who started in place of injured Rudy Gobert.

Nokia 6 Starts Receiving Android 7.1.1 These Days
Nokia 9 is speculated to feature an iris scanner, so we can expect the fingerprint scanner to be placed under the display. Both smartphones were rumoured to get launched at HMD Global's Mobile World Congress (MWC) press conference in February.

Alaska oil well leaking gas in northern part of state
There is no estimation of the volume of oil spilled or the amount of natural gas that is still coming from the wellhead. Well pressure was monitored through the night and excess pressure was bled off to keep it within a safe range.

Didier Drogba joins United States side Phoenix Rising as player and executive
I have taken my time in deciding what I wanted to do next and am really excited about the opportunity at Phoenix Rising FC . The USL has continued to elevate its role in the North American soccer landscape, securing Division II status from the U.S.

5 things to know about Tax Day: refunds are up, audits down
Although the American people will not be able to hold Trump accountable for what's in his tax documents, the IRS certainly will. It is precisely those conflicts of interest that those who want Trump to release his tax returns seek to shed light on.

Starbucks unicorn frappuccinos may be coming soon and they look magical
Social media has been abuzz with rumors of a new Starbucks drink for a while, and now, those rumors have been confirmed. There's no video evidence yet, because the drink hasn't officially launched, but if that's true, it really is magical.

Kim Kardashian bans husband Kanye from attending music festival
The next episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians will address Kanye West's hospitalization. Kim Kardashian has shared a stylish family photo - on Easter weekend.

Irving scores 37, Cavs hold on to beat Pacers 117-111
However, they almost blew an 18-point lead in the fourth as the Pacers got within four before Cleveland closed it out at the line. The Pacers find themselves in a 0-2 hole as they fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-111 in Game 2 of their first-round series.

Daesh car-bomb attack kills 16 in W. Mosul: Iraqi army
Iraqi forces forced Islamic State out of the eastern side of the city in January. It is unclear how exactly the two group may work together, Allawi said.

Crude slips below $53 as United States drilling surge stokes output fears
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 23 cents at $52.95 a barrel. Prices lost 53 cents to US$52.65 yesterday, the lowest close since April 7.

Meghan Markle to attend Pippa Middleton's wedding reception with Prince Harry
The claims come after Harry missed the royal Easter tradition of the royal family attending a service at Windsor Castle's St. Actress Meghan Markle will reportedly attend Pippa Middelton and James Matthews wedding with boyfriend Prince Harry .

Pence to visit mosque in Indonesian capital
Pence has been working with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss options for stopping nuclear proliferation in the area. CNN's Dana Bash reported from on board the USS Ronald Reagan , while CNN's Joshua Berlinger reported and wrote from Hong Kong.

More News

More News