Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer

A state violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause by denying church schools subsidies provided other schools for playground improvements.  Denying a generally available government benefit based solely on the recipient’s religion violates the First Amendment by imposing a penalty on the free exercise of religion.  Such a policy or statute may be justified only under the strictest scrutiny test.  Here, Missouri denied all religious institutions the opportunity to participate in the state’s grant program for upgrading playgrounds.  Held, that rule violates the First Amendment.  Locke v. Davey (2004) 124 S. Ct. 1307, is distinguished as it involved educating clergy.  Resurfacing a playground doesn’t involve the same sort of entanglement with religion.

United States Supreme Court (Roberts, C.J.; Gorsuch & Thomas, JJ., concurring in part; Breyer, J., concurring in the judgment; Sotomayor & Ginsburg, JJ., dissenting); June 26, 2017; 2017 WL 2722410 

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