Trinity Lutheran wins!
Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale-based legal organization that stands in defense of religious liberty defended this case before the US Supreme Court. ADF Lawyer David Cortman argued the case.
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 7-2 that it is unconstitutional for the state to treat churches and other religious organizations worse than everyone else simply because they are religious.
This is great news! And it sets an important precedent to protect religious freedom. The government should never treat people of faith like second-class citizens.
Yet, that’s how the State of Missouri treated Trinity Lutheran Church when it disqualified them from receiving a non-profit playground reimbursement grant. In order to provide a safer environment for the children who attend its preschool and play on its playground, Trinity Lutheran applied for the grant, which was open to all nonprofits. And they were an ideal candidate, having been ranked fifth by the State out of 44 applicants, based on the criteria.
The State awarded 14 grants that year, but Trinity Lutheran was not among them.
Why? Because Trinity Lutheran preschool is operated by a church. Besides the fact that this was blatant religious discrimination, a majority of the children at the preschool are not members at Trinity Lutheran. On top of that, Trinity Lutheran leaves the playground open outside of school hours for children in the community to use.
Is their safety less important because they are playing on a “religious” playground? Of course not.
The Supreme Court recognized this in its decision today. Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the two dissenting votes. Sotomayor wrote the dissenting opinion, which follows the linked decision.