SCOTUS Sets Oral Argument on Religious Liberty Case from Missouri

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!