A blow-by-blow account of the Trinity Lutheran arguments

512px-USSupremeCourtWestFacadeThe London Economist, of all sources, has published a description of the arguments in the Supreme Court in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church vs. Pauley (and the State of Missouri).

The report said that the argument seemed to go in the church’s favor, with even liberal justices expressing skepticism about the state of Missouri’s reasoning in refusing to allow the church to participate in a grant for shredded tires to use for  playground padding for its preschool.

The justices asked the state’s attorney if providing a church police and fire protection would also violate its church-state separation law.  The attorney reportedly couldn’t come up with a good answer.

The new guy on the court, Justice Gorsuch, also seemed sympathetic to the LCMS institution.

Read the description of the arguments after the jump.

Photo of Supreme Court building by UpstateNYer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Gorsuch’s first week will feature LCMS school

Rubber_mulch_playgroundJustice Neil Gorsuch is now on the Supreme Court, and one of the first cases he will hear in his first week involves a Lutheran preschool:  Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley.

At issue is whether Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, can take part in a state program that gives shredded tires to schools in order to cushion their school’s playgrounds.

The Missouri Constitution says that no state money whatsoever can go to a religious entity.  And those shredded tires represent money.

At issue, though, is the heritage of the anti-Catholic Blaine Amendment in the 19th century, which is an obstacle to school choice programs.

I am sympathetic to the church and school.  But do  they have a leg to stand on?  Doesn’t the Missouri constitution say what it says?  If Justice Gorsuch rules against the church, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that he is weak on religious freedom, just that this case is pretty straightforward against the church’s position.  What line of argument would you make in support of the church’s case?

See George Will’s take on the case. [Read more…]