Supreme Court rules for Columbia church in playground case

3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago June 26, 2017 Jun 26, 2017 Monday, June 26 2017 Monday, June 26, 2017 9:26:00 AM CDT in News
By: The Associated Press and Stephanie Sandoval, KOMU 8 Reporter

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled that churches have the same right as other charitable groups to seek state money for new playground surfaces and other non-religious needs.

The justices on Monday ruled 7-2 in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri. The church sought a grant to put a soft surface on its preschool playground, but was denied any money even though its application was ranked fifth out of 44 submissions.

Chief Justice John Roberts said for the court that it "is odious to our Constitution" to exclude the church from the grant program. Roberts said that's true even though the consequences are only "a few extra scraped knees.”

In a release, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman said, "The government should treat children’s safety at religious schools the same as it does at nonreligious schools.”

Cortman also said, "equal treatment of a religious organization in a program that provides only secular benefits, like a partial reimbursement grant for playground surfacing, isn’t a government endorsement of religion.”

Earlier this year, Governor Eric Greitens reversed Missouri's policy that discriminated against religious organizations, so that churches may now apply for the money. 

"Like our administration, the Supreme Court decided that people of faith should not be discriminated against," Greitens said in a statement. "Missouri is home to many excellent religious organizations that serve our kids, our families, and our communities. We will continue to work together with these organizations to help the people of Missouri.” 

The attorney for the respondent said he was not surprised about Monday’s ruling, but he does not know if this ruling resolves many questions in the near future in Missouri. 

"Missouri still has a constitutional provision that bars public money going to churches, and all that the court here said that you couldn’t have a program that excluded churches and no one else," James Layton said. "It did not say that our provision barring money going to churches was itself unconstitutional." 

Layton said the immediate impact of the decision may depend on how courts address it when the case gets sent back to the lower federal courts, but the Alliance Defending Freedom CEO said the case will be a warning to other states.     

"If you push too far on the trying to keep religious people out of public life you’re gonna violate the decision and more importantly you’re going to violate the free exercise clause in the constitution," Mike Farris said. 

The justices were careful to say the ruling applied narrowly to just this case. 

"The Supreme Court decided to rule rather narrowly on this and just kind of stick to the facts in the case at hand," Michael McShane, Show-Me Institute Director of Education Policy, said. "Some folks had hoped they would issue a bit broader ruling, so I would imagine this is by no means the last word on these sorts of questions about how religious organizations intersect with the government."   

The case is one of the first to be decided on with new Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed by President Donald Trump after the death of Antonin Scalia. Farris said he was not surprised on the way Gorsuch ruled in the case. 

"His track record before he became a supreme court justice was very strong on religious freedom for everybody," Farris said. 

The preschool was not awarded the grant. This is something that will have to be worked out in the lower federal courts level.           

More News

Grid
List
LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City, Kansas, woman with the first name of Darlene may have been... More >>
20 minutes ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 7:27:29 AM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a man has died after being stabbed outside a sandwich shop in the... More >>
27 minutes ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 7:21:00 AM CDT in News
FAIR GROVE, Mo. (AP) — A 70-year-old man has been charged in the shooting death of his girlfriend in southwest... More >>
33 minutes ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 7:15:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A car chase wound through Columbia for miles on Thursday evening around 7 p.m. Multiple agencies got involved... More >>
10 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 9:11:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Joanthony Johnson, 27, was back in court Thursday for the second day in a row for his sentencing... More >>
11 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 7:55:00 PM CDT in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A Williamsburg man was arrested on Thursday and accused of domestic assault, including pointing a rifle at... More >>
13 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 5:50:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants Callaway County prosecutor to file criminal charges against Central Missouri... More >>
14 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 5:25:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says he'll stop funding cuts for foster-care families that he approved earlier... More >>
14 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 4:58:41 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Chicago man has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in... More >>
15 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 4:21:13 PM CDT in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Law enforcement officials are suing more than a dozen businesses in southwest Missouri suspected of being involved... More >>
15 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 3:51:43 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY — The Jefferson City Police Department confirmed Thursday that two teenagers were found dead in the Moreau River... More >>
16 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 3:48:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Flags will be at half-staff Friday on all state government buildings in St. Louis to honor... More >>
16 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 3:43:14 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A community based organization that provides tutoring services, dance classes, and other skills to children in Columbia is... More >>
17 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 2:42:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Welcome Home had the grand opening of its new facility Thursday morning. It offers 32 rooms with 34... More >>
18 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 1:43:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a judge's order that Missouri taxpayers pay more than $156,000... More >>
18 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 1:42:54 PM CDT in News
ROLLA - A drug deal turned violent Wednesday night, leaving a woman hospitalized with a gunshot wound to her head.... More >>
20 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 11:08:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Columbia Police are investigating a home invasion and armed robbery at the Campus View apartment complex Wednesday night.... More >>
21 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 10:07:00 AM CDT in News
ST. JOSEPH (AP) — Authorities say three people have been wounded in a shooting at a St. Joseph apartment complex.... More >>
22 hours ago July 20, 2017 Jul 20, 2017 Thursday, July 20 2017 Thursday, July 20, 2017 9:18:00 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 75°
8am 81°
9am 86°
10am 89°
11am 92°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
7:30a
Cops Reloaded
8:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
America's Got Talent
9:00p
Dateline NBC
7:00p
Masters of Illusion
7:30p
Masters of Illusion
8:00p
Penn & Teller: Fool Us
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld