Supreme Court Review 2016/2017 TERM
SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2017
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Issue:  Establishment Clause

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley

15-577

QUESTION(S) PRESENTED

Trinity Lutheran Church applied for Missouri’s Scrap Tire Grant Program so that it could provide a safer playground for children who attend its daycare and for neighborhood children who use the playground after hours—a purely secular matter. But the state denied Trinity’s application solely because it is a church. The Eighth Circuit affirmed that denial by equating a grant to resurface Trinity’s playground using scrap tire material with funding the devotional training of clergy. The Eighth Circuit’s decision was not faithful to this Court’s ruling in Locke v. Davey, 540 U.S. 712 (2004), and deepened an existing circuit conflict. Three lower courts—two courts of appeals and one state supreme court—interpret Locke as justifying the exclusion of religion from a neutral aid program where no valid Establishment Clause concern exists. In contrast, two courts of appeals remain faithful to Locke and the unique historical concerns on which it relied.

The question presented is:
Whether the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses when the state has no valid Establishment Clause concern.

DECISION

Fully Briefed and Argued
Awaiting Decision

ORAL ARGUMENT

Argued April 19, 2017

Transcript
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PROCEEDING BELOW

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Decided May 29, 2015
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