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PNS Daily Newscast - November 20, 2017 


On our Monday nationwide rundown; decision day for the Keystone XL pipeline; a border patrol agent killed in the line of duty in Texas; and time is running out to comment on fees that could double or triple at many National Parks in 2018.

Daily Newscasts

High Court Religious Freedom Ruling: Conclusion of MO's 147-Year Journey?

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the only dissenters in the Trinity Lutheran Church decision. (Mark Thomas/Pixabay)
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the only dissenters in the Trinity Lutheran Church decision. (Mark Thomas/Pixabay)
June 27, 2017

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The U.S. Supreme Court's decision allowing religious institutions to receive taxpayer-funded grants marks what may be the end of a debate in Missouri dating back to the 1800s.

At issue was whether Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia should have been eligible to receive federal funds to refurbish its playground.

The high court said yes.

University of Missouri law professor Carl Esbeck notes that Missouri was the first state to restrict taxpayer dollars to secular organizations.

"These laws, which came to be called Blaine amendments, started in Missouri and they ended in Missouri as well with this Trinity Lutheran Church case,” he states. “It just took 150 years."

The ruling means that grants cannot be restricted based on who is applying for the taxpayer funds. They can be restricted, however, based on how those funds would be used.

Esbeck says the ruling will have a significant impact on the issue of school choice since government dollars could be allocated beyond only public schools.

Esbeck says the decision opens the door to change in Missouri, where school funding has been a major focus.

"Our new governor, for example, backed some school choice legislation in our two inner cities – St. Louis and Kansas City – for low-income children and the children of veterans,” he points out. “So, we're going to see more, more of that."

Esbeck says the 7-2 vote will make it all the more difficult to challenge the issue in the future.


Kevin Patrick Allen/Scott Herron, Public News Service - MO