LS – Supreme Court Poised to Consider State Restrictions on Use of Public Funds for Religious Organizations – 08/22/2016

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The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in its upcoming term in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley, a case challenging the validity of Missouri state constitutional restrictions on the use of public funds to aid religious entities. The church has asked the Court, in part, to review whether excluding religious entities from neutral, secular public programs violates the Free Exercise Clause ―when the state has no valid Establishment Clause concern.‖ As framed by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which heard the case on appeal, the church is seeking ―an unprecedented ruling‖ – whether state constitutional prohibitions on providing public funds to churches violates the federal constitution. This discussion is limited to the case‘s implications on the federal First Amendment‘s rules regarding public aid to religious entities, although the church has alleged violations of the Equal Protection Clause in addition to the First Amendment‘s religion clauses.

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