by Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | April 20, 2017 11:00 am
Actually, I heard that Justice Neil Gorsuch was very chatty on the bench. Far more than most Justices ever are. But upon hearing his first big SCOTUS case, he went dead silent. He pondered the case as he heard it laid out and did not speak until the end of oral arguments. But his questions were a one-two to the legal gut and hit home. In the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, where a church-owned preschool is claiming that they have been blocked from receiving a grant from the state to resurface their playground because of their connection to a church, Gorsuch wanted to know how under Missouri law excluding the church for this specific government program was any “better” than excluding them in a more general government program. Nice.
The attorney, James Layton, claimed the selective programs like the one at the center of the case are more visible to the public and could suggest a government endorsement of a religious institution or its mission. Which is unmitigated bull crap in my opinion. It is this leftist idiocy of separation of church and state at play. Gorsuch wants to know exactly how the state of Missouri would make such distinctions. No word on that answer yet and the case should be decided in June. Ginsberg and Sotomayor of course were leaning left, but their stance may shift because of the tenor of the argument here.
From the Independent Journal Review:
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch heard oral arguments in his first major case on Wednesday — a legal fight over religious freedom that could have a wide-reaching impact on religious institutions.
The case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, is based on a church-owned preschool’s claim that it was blocked from getting a grant for materials to resurface their playground because of its connection to Trinity Lutheran Church.
All eyes were on Gorsuch as he is the court’s newest justice and he was confirmed only after a politically-charged battle in the U.S. Senate. However, freshman Supreme Court justice reportedly didn’t say anything until the end of the proceedings.
Only at the end of oral arguments did Gorsuch speak up, asking the attorney representing the state of Missouri how excluding the church in the specific government program was any “better” than excluding them in a more general government program.
All eyes were on Justice Gorsuch as he maneuvered the sharky legal waters of the Supreme Court for the first time. From what I understand, he did amazingly well and now we will get to see how he rules. He is an orginialist, so I would expect that he will use Constitutional law for his basis of determination. I will be watching very closely on his rulings and his opinions to see if in indeed he will make Scalia proud. I am certain he will.
The Court seems to be leaning in favor of religious liberty on this case and that is very good. However, I wonder why a private church is looking for funds from a state government in the first place. This is our problem. We should take care of our own and not look for handouts. As to the question of equal treatment under the law however, they should be included in such programs as I consider it a First Amendment violation to exclude them under the color of the law. Congrats to Justice Neil Gorsuch on entering the Highest Court of the land and emerging victorious on his first round of battle.
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