Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Supreme Court rules for churches in two more public funding cases

Supreme Court rules for churches in two more public funding cases:

Supreme Court rules for churches in two more public funding cases


WASHINGTON — One day after the Supreme Court ruled decisively that a Lutheran church in Missouri should be eligible for state-funded playground aid, the high court said two other decisions from lower courts, both barring churches from public education funding, should be reconsidered.
Justices on Tuesday sent cases from New Mexico and Colorado back to their respective state supreme courts. Both involve state funding for religious schools — in New Mexico, the conflict centers around a long-standing state textbook lending program; in Colorado, three cases, consolidated into one, center around school vouchers.
In the New Mexico case, the state’s high court in 2015 said the textbook program violated a prohibition on state aid going to religious and private schools. In Colorado, that state’s high court, also in 2015, struck down voucher programs that would have allowed students to use taxpayer funds to attend private schools, including religious ones.
School choice advocates were already celebrating Monday’s 7-2 ruling in a closely watched case involving Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Mo. That decision could have implications for as many as 39 states with constitutional provisions that block public funds from going to religious organizations.
In the Trinity case, the justices ruled that Missouri stretched the constitutional separation of church and state too far by declaring the church ineligible to receive a competitive state grant for playground resurfacing.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the state's denial of funds likely would lead only to "a few extra scraped knees," but that excluding Trinity "from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand."
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who opposed the ruling along with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented from the bench, saying the high court "has never required a state to turn over taxpayer funds to a house of worship."
In the Missouri case, which dates to 2012, the church applied for funding to replace the Supreme Court rules for churches in two more public funding cases:
 

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