Wednesday, June 28, 2017
IFI Staff
U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Religious Freedom

The United States Supreme Court made big news this week – and much of it was favorable.

First, in a 7-2 decision, the Court sided with religious institutions in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comey. The case, which was largely seen as another major test for the survival of religious freedom, centered on whether or not Trinity Lutheran Church could be denied federal dollars meant to improve safety at its school’s playground – simply because the playground was run by a religious institution.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today affirms the commonsense principle that government isn’t being neutral when it treats religious organizations worse than everyone else,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman, who argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of Trinity Lutheran Church in April. “Equal treatment of a religious organization in a program that provides only secular benefits, like a partial reimbursement grant for playground surfacing, isn’t a government endorsement of religion. As the Supreme Court rightly found, unequal treatment that singles out a preschool for exclusion from such a program simply because a church runs the school is clearly unconstitutional.”

Only Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented in the case.

The Court also agreed to hear arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case this fall. Jack Phillips, a Denver baker, had previously declined to make a cake for a gay couple’s same-sex ceremony, citing his religious beliefs. After the couple filed a complaint against Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Commission filed suit claiming that Phillips had violated state non-discrimination law.

The outcome of this case will likely set major precedent not just for religious freedom, but also for freedom of association. This will be a must-win case. 

There was one troubling decision issued by the Court, however. In a case that further erodes the concept of biology, the Court ruled that the State of Arkansas must allow same-sex parents to be listed as parents on a child’s birth certificate, regardless of who the child’s biological parents are. New Justice Neil Gorsuch dissented on that decision, along with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

We’ll keep you updated on these cases and others, here and on our Facebook page.

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