The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has set oral argument for April 19, 2017, in the case ofTrinity Lutheran Church vs. Pauley, a case pitting a Columbia, Missouri Lutheran Church school against the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The case explores the scope and reach of Missouri’s Blaine Amendment, a constitutional provision which prohibits state money from being used to support religious institutions, schools, or churches. At issue is a state grant program which provides crushed recycled tires for playgrounds. Trinity Lutheran Church, which runs a school on church property, applied for a grant and was excluded specifically because their playground was on church grounds.
Lawyers for Trinity Lutheran have argued that the playground is non-sectarian in nature and that parochial schools shouldn’t be excluded from the grant program, since a playground is not used for religious purposes. Other states permit the use of public funds to transport parochial school students on public school buses and to provide non-sectarian textbooks, they argue.
The MCC filed a friend of the court brief in support of Trinity Lutheran and will be watching this case carefully. Stay tuned!