Supreme Hubris

The case of the Trinity Lutheran Church wound its way through the Supreme Court this week. A real religious discrimination case, as opposed to a made up one.

Anyone reading here is probably familiar with it, but here is a short summary.

(Syllabus) The Trinity Lutheran Church Child Learning Center is a Missouri pre-school and daycare center. Originally established as a nonprofit organization, the Center later merged with Trinity Lutheran Church and now operates under its auspices on church property. Among thefacilities at the Center is a playground, which has a coarse pea gravel surface beneath much of the play equipment. In 2012, the Center sought to replace a large portion of the pea gravel with a pour-in-place rubber surface by participating in Missouri’s scrap Tire Program. The program, run by the State’s Department of Natural Resources, offers reimbursement grants to qualifying nonprofit organizations that install playground surfaces made from recycled tires.

The Department had a strict and express policy of denying grants to any applicant owned or controlled by a church, sect, or other religious entity. Pursuant to that policy, the Department denied the Center’s application. In a letter rejecting that application, the Department explained that under Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution, the Department could not provide financial assistance directly to a church

What happened was a 7-2 decision in favor of the church. Then the thing that gets me is the 2 dissenters. Sotomayor is a stinging dissent, with Ginsburg and her ACLU ties.

Does that mean, in her view, that she’s okay with the government discriminating against a church? Should we ask? She seems to be the one most aligned with Obama’s zealous worldview than even Kagan. His bigotry against Christians knew no boundaries.

Nevertheless, here are some particulars from the decision:

“(b) The Department’s policy expressly discriminates against otherwise eligible recipients by disqualifying them from a public benefit solely because of their religious character. Like the disqualification statute in McDaniel, the Department’s policy puts Trinity Lutheran to a choice: It may participate in an otherwise available benefit program or remain a religious institution. When the State conditions a benefit in this way, McDaniel says plainly that the State has imposed a penalty on the free exercise of religion that must withstand the most exacting scrutiny. 435 U. S., at 626, 628.”


A difference with the government’s precedent arguments.

“[In Locke vs. Davey] Davey was not denied a scholarship because of who he was; he was denied a scholarship because of what he proposed to do. Here there is no question that Trinity Lutheran was denied a grant simply because of what it is—a church.”

“The Court in Locke also stated that Washington’s restriction on the use of its funds was in keeping with the State’s anti-establishment interest in not using taxpayer funds to pay for the training of clergy, an “essentially religious endeavor,” id., at 721.

Here, nothing of the sort can be said about a program to use recycled tires to resurface playgrounds. At any rate, [in Locke] the Court took account of Washington’s anti-establishment interest only after determining that the scholarship program did not “require students to choose between their religious beliefs and receiving a government benefit.” Id., at 720–721″

There is no dispute that Trinity Lutheran is put to the choice between being a church and receiving a government benefit. Pp. 11–14.

Yet the Department offers nothing more than Missouri’s preference for skating as far as possible from religious establishment concerns.”

But there is no doubt, in my mind, that the left (anti-Christian zealots) will have their own spin why this is a terrible thing — a bad decision which needs to be overturned. Again, why the dissent in this case is what baffles me?

Justice Sotomayor in her dissent opening said:

“The Court today profoundly changes that relationship by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church. Its decision slights both our precedents and our history, and its reasoning weakens this country’s longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both.”

Then she proceeded to dig into the mission statement of the Luthran church to use as disqualifiers against Trinity, based on their expressed purpose as a church. Done in a way that only Obama and likely Ginsburg would approve of.

Sotomayor went on down her path by finally summarizing:

“The Church uses “preaching, teaching, worship, witness, service, and fellowship according to the Word of God” to carry out its mission “to ‘make disciples.’”

So she went straight to the church’s doctrine to use against them. Why not put the mission purpose of the church under the spotlight in order to discriminate against it? Basically, Sotomayor’s litmus is based on ‘what it is‘ not what it is doing, or proposing to do. Thus, Sotomayor wants to discrimiate against them solely because of their religious character.

See decision: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-577_khlp.pdf
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