by: Aaron Baer, Citizens for Community Values
It’s been two days since the United States Supreme Court announced its decision in the Trinity Lutheran case. For background, Trinity Lutheran runs a preschool that applied for a state grant to replace its playground surface with recycled rubberized-tires.
The state of Missouri admitted it denied the grant to Trinity Lutheran solely because it was a Christian organization. This is the definition of religious discrimination.
Thankfully, the Supreme Court made right this injustice. While this was an important win for the preschool, what happened has far reaching implications – here are the 4 things (plus 1) that I’m taking away from Monday:
It was incredibly encouraging to see that this case was not decided by the usual 5-4 split, with the conservative justices swinging in favor or liberty, and the liberal justices swinging in favor of state power.
In many ways, this case was a “no-brainer” – if Missouri can apply a religious test to its state-granting program, then the First Amendment becomes meaningless.
Ginsburg Embarrasses Herself
While I’m thrilled it was a 7-2 decision, it is a shame that you have two justices – Ginsburg and Sotomayor – that ruled against Trinity Lutheran. After reading their dissenting opinion, I can summarize their arguments like this: the state awarding the preschool rubberized tires for the safety of all children is akin to establishing a state religion.
That’s… kind of crazy.
Gorsuch Stands Out
In his first religious freedom case on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Gorsuch shined. He went out of his way to write a concurring opinion to affirm one of the most important principles for religious freedom today: that the government cannot punish Christians because of their religious views.
In Gorsuch’s eyes, while the Trinity Lutheran dealt with playground equipment, the overarching concept reaffirmed is crucial. “[T]he general principles here do not permit discrimination against religious exercise—whether on the playground or anywhere else,” he wrote.
Gorsuch’s statements about this case are especially timely because the High Court also announced that in the fall, it will take of the “Masterpiece Cakes” case.
This case involves a Christian baker in Colorado who is being penalized by the state for declining to make a cake for a gay wedding.
The fundamental question here is can the government coerce you to communicate a message you disagree with?
And before you start buying into the “he refused service because they were gay” arguments, Jack Phillips served countless LGBT customers. He simply didn’t want to participate in a religious ceremony that conflicted with his religious beliefs.
(Plus 1) Alliance Defending Freedom is #winning
You can’t talk about either the Trinity Lutheran case or the Masterpiece Cakes case without talking about Alliance Defending Freedom – the national Christian Legal organization (and one of our amazing national allies) that defended Trinity Lutheran in court, and is defending Masterpiece Cakes.
These guys are the best at what they do.