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The left’s next target – SCOTUS?

April 17, 2017

Let’s face it. The left has worn out it’s messaging, and it’s now in reruns.

That’s absolutely the only thing that could explain the “Tax Day” marches, because virtually no one else cares about the President’s tax returns.

If anything, we might be happier seeing the returns of all the low and mid-level organizers, not to mention those belonging to the real monetary and ideological movers on the left.

The continuous, endless loop of campaign era cock-a-doodle-do-do is just plain boring at this point.

But have no fear…SCOTUS is now in session, and horror of all horrors, Justice Gorsuch will now be able to weigh in on the issues.

Given that many left-leaning anti-Trumpers are also anti-Western religion as well, the first case on the docket will provide a whole new meme to obsess about.

The case itself features an appeal based on a separation of church and state element, namely Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer (for State of Missouri).

As noted in this recap of the issues from a PBS source, the underlying issue is one near and dear to the hearts of both sides of the political spectrum.

The case centers around whether a religious entity can avail itself of a state grant to pay for a few loads of ground up tires for a playground surface, under a Missouri program making  funding available to improve the safety of playgrounds.

Missouri said “no” based on their existing state constitution that says “…no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion.”

The money for the grant comes from a specific recycling fee on tires, not the state’s general fund, but it is still considered public funds.

Some argue that because the playground belongs to Trinity Lutheran, it can be excluded from the general intent of the grant program, even though the RFP does not specifically differentiate between playgrounds based on ownership, nor is the playground a “place of worship.” In addition the playground is not reserved only for church members but is open to all.

Incidentally, churches are widely considered to be nonprofit institutions, or at least tax-exempt entities, even under Federal law.  They may, but do not have to obtain a nonprofit ruling as do public charities.

Some people note that the state constitution could be interpreted so broadly that even providing and maintaining utilities and streets or providing law enforcement services might fall under its reach,  since those things aid the church “indirectly”.

Conversely, if the state allows those public safety services to be extended to churches, does that negate their argument concerning another safety issue, playground surfaces?

The case isn’t a clear slam dunk for either side, and it has significance that affects more than a few tons of ground up tires.

If the underlying law, mainly the wording about “indirectly” benefiting any religious entity, is deemed overly broad, that could have consequences far beyond the single playground.

If the state’s position is upheld on the basis that the intent of the law is clear, then what happens to those other services the state or city provides? Could the Missouri constitution be used to deny access to, or the safety of, a religious facility, thereby preventing Lutherans and others from worshipping as they choose?

Given that Justice Gorsuch is known for ruling on the existing law, the outcome might not satisfy either side.

Justice Gorsuch may not see this as a religious liberty case.

Instead, he might very well rule that the existing authority, the state constitution, is clear in its intent, without ruling on any ancillary U.S. Constitutional First Amendment ramifications. It depends on how narrowly the two sides’ attorneys have framed their positions.

Either way, perhaps we might at least see some new signs at the protests.  Some of the old ones are looking pretty ratty.

From → op-ed

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