The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Missouri's decision to prevent a church-operated daycare and preschool from receiving funding from a state program was unconstitutional.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the Supreme Court's 7-2 opinion, which reversed the federal appeals court's ruling and sent the case back to the lower court for additional proceedings.
The dispute in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer involved a state program that provided funding to nonprofits to resurface playgrounds, which ran into conflict with a provision of the Missouri Constitution that blocks public funds from directly or indirectly assisting any church, sect or religion.
"The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has not subjected anyone to chains or torture on account of religion. And the result of the state's policy is nothing so dramatic as the denial of political office," Roberts wrote in the high court's opinion. "The consequence is in all likelihood, a few extra scraped knees. But 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 cannot stand."
Roberts' opinion provided the high court's consensus in the case, except a footnote in his opinion that said the Trinity Lutheran case involved "discrimination based on religious identity" and did "not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination."