(Washington, D.C.)—In a 7-2 decision today, “the U.S.
Supreme Court delivered a victory for the First Amendment’s guarantee of
religious freedom for religious schools,” said Jeanne Allen, Founder and CEO of
Center for Education Reform.
Trinity Lutheran had been denied state funding for a playground
surface solely because its school is a religious one. The court’s
7-2 decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer finds that “the exclusion
of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified,
solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and
The Supreme Court declared that
Trinity Lutheran is a “clear infringement on free exercise,” and that
Missouri’s denial of funding for the school was unconstitutional.
Like many states, Missouri added a “Blaine Amendment” to its
constitution in the 19th Century. In its publication Mandate for
Change, CER explained that “Blaine Amendments, adopted as a result
of anti-Catholic fervor in the late 1800s, prohibit the use of state funds at
‘sectarian’ schools. The wording of many of the Blaine Amendments exceeds the
language of the United States Constitution. The lingering impact of these
amendments has been credited with stopping school choice from becoming a
reality in many states.”
Although the Court did not take the opportunity to review the
constitutionality of Missouri’s Blaine Amendment, it was firm and clear that
“denying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity
imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion.”
Allen said that CER “will work to ensure that there will be
other opportunities for the court to review the constitutionality of Blaine
Amendments and pave the way for parents to decide the best educational
opportunities for their children, be they private, religious or public in
Contact: Tim Sullivan, Chief
Communications Officer Monday, June 26, 2017 (202) 750-0016 for more info.