WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. This will mark the first major religious liberty case since Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Court, restoring the Court to a full bench. Family Research Council’s (FRC) Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, Travis Weber, Esq., will attend the oral arguments. FRC filed a joint amicus brief in the case with the Christian Legal Society, the Anglican Church in North America, Christian Medical Association, National Religious Broadcasters, and the Queens Federation of Churches.
Trinity Lutheran Church operates a school with a playground connected to it, and wanted to refinish its playground surface to make it safer for all children who play there. It applied to a Missouri state program offering grants to refinish such playground surfaces, and although otherwise qualified to receive the grant, was excluded because it is a church. With the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Trinity Lutheran Church brought suit but suffered adverse rulings because lower courts relied on precedent which was not directly relevant to the case.
Travis Weber, FRC’s Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, commented:
“At the heart of the First Amendment is the idea that Americans should be able to not just hold beliefs but follow those beliefs as they live their lives. Our nation’s founding fathers never meant to exclude churches from public life in the way the state of Missouri and lower courts have in this case. The Constitution was never intended to scrub all religious expression from the public square or bar organizations from receiving any benefit from the government merely because they are religious. We are simply asking for a fair and level playing field for religious and nonreligious organizations. A win for Trinity Lutheran Church in this case is a win for the freedoms that Americans have long exercised.
“I am hopeful that Justice Gorsuch’s presence on the Court will usher in a period of increased protection for our first freedom, the freedom of religion. I look forward to hearing the oral arguments in this case,” Weber concluded.
Travis Weber, FRC’s Director of the Center for Religious Liberty
Annette Kiehne, Trinity Lutheran Child Learning Center Director
Michael Farris, ADF President, CEO, and General Counsel
David Cortman, ADF Senior Counsel
And other speakers
WHAT: News conference after oral arguments in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer
WHEN: TOMORROW, April 19, immediately following oral arguments (approximately 11:15 a.m. Eastern)
WHERE: Outside U.S. Supreme Court, 1 First St. NE, Washington, D.C.
On-site media contact: (202) 679-6800
To review FRC’s amicus brief, please see: http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF16D46.pdf