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U.S. Constitution
See other U.S. Constitution Articles

Title: Tempers flare at Supreme Court over religious liberty case
Source: Washington Examiner
URL Source: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/t ... s-liberty-case/article/2620684
Published: Apr 19, 2017
Author: Ryan Lovelace
Post Date: 2017-04-20 17:12:34 by Tooconservative
Keywords: None
Views: 285
Comments: 8

Arguments in a high-profile religious liberty case caused tempers to flare on both sides of the Supreme Court's ideological divide Wednesday.

The high court waited for several months to hear Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, and did so with a full nine-justice court bolstered by the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the court this month. At issue in Trinity Lutheran is whether Missouri violated the Constitution in its decision to bar a church-operated daycare and preschool from a state program that provides funding to nonprofits to resurface playgrounds. Missouri's Constitution includes a provision that prevents public funds from directly or indirectly assisting any church, sect or religion.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom Gorsuch formerly clerked, kicked off questioning at the oral arguments without providing many signals about how he might decide. Kennedy asked David Cortman, the lawyer for Trinity Lutheran Church, whether there are any "instances when religious status can be used to deny benefits" from the government.

Before Cortman could finish answering that he could not think of any such example, the court's left-leaning justices pounced. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg interrupted first, followed by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

"I believe the playground is part of the ministry" of the church, Sotomayor said, expresssing concern that the preschool might choose to provide religious instruction to the children "outside on a sunny day" on the playground resurfaced with government funding.

Sotomayor noted that nearly 40 states had provisions in their state constitutions similar to Missouri's and lauded the provisions as part of the nation's tradition of not funding religious institutions.

"You say this affects free exercise [of religion], you seem to be confusing money with free exercise," Sotomayor told Cortman. "I'm not sure how this is a free exercise question."

Justice Samuel Alito soon after interjected and called out Sotomayor by name, prompting the equivalent of an intellectual food fight. Alito asked Cortman whether he agreed with Sotomayor's suggestion that the Missouri Constitution's provision prohibiting direct or indirect funding to churches represented an "admirable tradition," which gave Cortman the opportunity to talk about the provision's roots in "anti-Catholic bigotry."

Sotomayor immediately responded to the allegations of anti-Catholic bigotry motivating the provision by saying, "There's a serious debate about that." The court's left-leaning justices did not rush to Sotomayor's defense, and material previewing the case provided by the Supreme Court asserts that provisions such as Missouri's "were born out of anti-Catholic animosity in the 19th century."

Sotomayor did, however, have an ally in the opposing counsel, James Layton, who represented Carol Comer, head of Missouri's Department of Natural Resources.

"Justice Alito asked whether this is an admirable tradition ... and the state's answer is yes," Layton began.

Alito questioned Layton at length with hypothetical examples from friend of the court briefs to see where Layton drew the line on who may receive government funding. Alito asked whether Missouri would approve of synagogues or mosques at risk as targets of terrorism receiving Department of Homeland Security grants to have security mechanisms in place akin to those at the high court. Layton answered "no."

Layton's answer drew skeptical questions from Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, who asked how police and fire department services are provided to protect churches.

Perhaps sensing that the court was not moving firmly toward her corner, Sotomayor then questioned whether newly elected Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, was "manufacturing adversity" by allowing the case to proceed even after the governor had changed how the state views the program. Layton replied by detailing how he presumed the same controversy likely would return to the court in the future regardless of the newly elected officials' action.

The timing of Sotomayor's question on whether the case was "moot" was revealing. When Breyer questioned Cortman, Trinity Lutheran's counsel, about the new governor's action, Sotomayor did not raise any questions. Cortman explained that the new governor's policy came by "Facebook or press release" and was subject to change as the political winds do. Only when Layton neared the end of his arguments did Sotomayor choose to ask why the case was at the Supreme Court.

As several of the justices talked over one another to ask questions, Gorsuch sat silent — a mirror of Justice Clarence Thomas — throughout much of the day's proceedings. Gorsuch was the last justice to ask a question. In asking questions of Layton, Gorsuch pursued a line of questioning brought by Kagan and asked why Missouri's discrimination against the church in a selective government public-benefit program was "better" than discrimination in a general public-benefit program.

Layton talked at length about Missouri's concerns about endorsement and entanglement because of the Trinity Lutheran Church's religious affiliation.


Poster Comment:

A little unusual for the Court to have such open conflict in public.

Was there something about Court dynamics and this newcomer, Gorsuch, that made the others go all out so publicly?
(1 image)

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#1. To: Tooconservative (#0) (Edited)

I hope the church wins

refuses the aid

tell them to subsidize an abortion

buy them some dildos

on amazon

for the feminists whacckkkos

on the ussc

practice lib ethics - laws

on themselves

love
boris

ps

just to be fair

buy some for the

gay - same - sex - marriage - metrosexuals too

If you ... don't use exclamation points --- you should't be typeing ! Commas - semicolons - question marks are for girlie boys !

BorisY  posted on  2017-04-20   17:37:25 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Tooconservative (#0)

The subject was resurfacing playgrounds around the city by providing rubber tire mulch to make them safer. Gorsuch asked if the city was discriminating against certain playgrounds based on religion.

He made a good point. The city provides fire department services to churches based on public safety.

The court is looking for a narrow decision. This may be the way.

misterwhite  posted on  2017-04-20   17:37:32 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: Tooconservative (#0)

So originally, it was Missouri's Protestant anti-Catholic bigotry which motivated them to expressly forbid taxpayer assistance to church related organizations...

OK... I'll go along with that... so what?

All that means was that they were right for the wrong reasons...
Separation of Church & State in our federal Constitution should uphold the same provision in Missouri's state constitution.

Willie Green  posted on  2017-04-20   17:39:15 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Willie gangGreen, fredbot, hondope, zulu, mau mau, hutus, lice, druids, morloks, 666ers (#3)

if separation of church - state was really practiced

you would be deported

w / o oxygen

to mars

where you're coming from

love
boris

If you ... don't use exclamation points --- you should't be typeing ! Commas - semicolons - question marks are for girlie boys !

BorisY  posted on  2017-04-20   17:46:22 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: Tooconservative (#0)

A little unusual for the Court to have such open conflict in public.

I hope it becomes the norm in the future!

Most of us are sick of those two lesbians that Obozo appointed and that old crone who keeps falling asleep should be ready for assisted living.

Liberals are a lot like Slinkys, they're good for nothing but they bring a smile to your face as you shove them down the stairs.

HomerBohn  posted on  2017-04-20   18:43:03 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: BorisY (#4)

Commas - semicolons - question marks are for girlie boys !

And syntax is for fascists!

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-04-20   18:47:54 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: Willie Green (#3)

it was Missouri's Protestant anti-Catholic bigotry

The church in the court case is Lutheran, not Catholic. And it involves their playground -- one of many playgrounds in the city.

The city is trying to make the playgrounds safer by providing them with rubber tire mulch. Can they discriminate against a playground because of religion?

misterwhite  posted on  2017-04-20   21:38:17 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: misterwhite (#7) (Edited)

Rubber tire mulch is carcinogenic.

Tell them dumbass Lutherans to rototill the dirt and plant some goddam grass.

And they can also dump a pile of sand around the monkey bars or swing sets or sliding boards wherever they think the kids might take a tumble.

Willie Green  posted on  2017-04-21   10:11:04 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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