In Major Church-State Decision, Supreme Court Sides with Religious Institution


AMY GOODMAN: The Supreme Court also ruled
on Monday that taxpayer-funded grants for playgrounds could not be denied to a church-run
school in Missouri. In an oral dissent issued from the bench,
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, quote, “This case is about nothing less than the relationship
between religious institutions and the civil government—that is, between church and state. The Court today profoundly changes that relationship
by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public
funds directly to a church,” unquote. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also agreed Monday
to hear the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, citing
his religious opposition. The appeal of the baker, Jack Phillips, opens
up the door for the court to set precedent on whether businesses can deny people services
because of their sexual orientation. David Mullins, who along with his partner
Charlie Craig have sued the cake maker, said, quote, “This has always been about more than
a cake. Businesses should not be allowed to violate
the law and discriminate against us because of who we are and who we love,” unquote. We’re still joined by Dahlia Lithwick of
Slate.com and Vince Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Dahlia, why don’t you talk about these two
cases? Start with the one they ruled on and Sonia
Sotomayor’s dissent. DAHLIA LITHWICK: Amy, this is so important,
because I think—it is clear to me, at least—that the next front in civil rights litigation
in America is going to be this collision between religious dissenters—we’ll remember from
Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters cases—people who want to sort of end-run basic civil rights
statutes based on their predicate belief that my religion prohibits me from being involved. And so we’ve seen a whole raft of cases—florists
who don’t want to afford flowers to same-sex marriages, pharmacists who don’t want to
deliver birth control. And these—all of these dissenters come into
kind of a real profound clash with just basic civil rights statutes. And I think both the cases you’ve cited
are an example of how this is going to be the new frontier, going forward. This is Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch and Clarence
Thomas. This is really where their heart is right
now. So, the Trinity Lutheran decision that came
down yesterday is such an important, I think, marker for where we are in terms of this so-called
wall between church and state. Missouri has a state constitution that provides
that we don’t take taxpayer money and give it to churches. We don’t give it to any churches. This goes beyond the federal constitutional
law. And it basically says that the state should
not be in the business of picking and choosing which churches it wants to subsidize, so no
tax dollars at all go to any church. Trinity Lutheran operates a preschool and
a school. It is an explicitly religious institution. And it wanted to be considered for a Missouri
program that uses recycled tires to create playground materials, so that kids don’t
bump their heads when they fall off the swings. They were very, very high in standing in terms
of their eligibility for this state program, and the state said, “We can’t give this
to you. We cannot give you access to a program that
uses taxpayer funds to fund a church.” And in a 7-to-2 decision yesterday, the Supreme
Court said it’s OK, they’re eligible, and to discriminate against churches for this
sort of program is in violation of their rights. So this really changes, I think, the baseline
for what churches will be able to ask us to use with our taxpayer money. And the reason it’s important, I think,
is because only two justices dissented. As you said, Sonia Sotomayor wrote a blistering
dissent, saying this is a sea change from what we’ve provided before. And only Justice Ginsburg agreed with her. So, by a 7-to-2 margin now, I think we’re
looking at a whole new ballgame in terms of churches being able to say, “We want what
everyone else is getting, and to fail to give that to us is a form of discrimination, religious
discrimination, in and of itself.” AMY GOODMAN: So let me— DAHLIA LITHWICK: I think it’s a big deal. AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to the White House
press secretary, Sean Spicer, who praised the Supreme Court’s decision in the Trinity
Lutheran case. PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: The Supreme Court
also today handed down its own decision in the Trinity Lutheran case. That was a 7-2 decision, which is a significant
victory for religious liberty and an affirmation of First Amendment right of all Americans. The court recognized there’s a clear difference
between the government supporting a particular religion and the government simply treating
all people the same, fairly, regardless of their religion. This ruling reaffirms that the government
cannot discriminate against individuals or organizations simply because they or their
members hold religious beliefs. The president believes that America is stronger
when people of faith and their organizations can exercise their religion freely, and he’s
pleased with today’s ruling. AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Sean Spicer. For those who watch Democracy Now! on television
or online, we didn’t have his image, because this was one of the days that the White House
said that the media was not allowed to video the press briefing, so only got the audio. But, Dahlia Lithwick, your response? DAHLIA LITHWICK: Well, I think it’s really
important to see that we have changed the standards in a deep way, and we have really
said—and this is so undergirding, as I said, this new revolution at the Supreme Court—we
have really said, you know, the real victims of discrimination in America, probably the
only ones left, are the churches, and that we’re going to level the playing field so
that they can have access to the same programs as anyone else. I will just say that it’s very clear from
the opinion itself—they drop a footnote and say this only applies to rubber resurfacing
in church playgrounds. This is not about, you know, whole-hog endorsing,
giving churches anything that they want for any purpose. And so it may be of some limited precedential
value, going forward. And Justice Breyer joined separately to say,
“I want to be real clear: This is just about rubber stuff in playgrounds.” So, there is some argument to be made that
the court tried to cabin how far this will spread. But I think, as—again, as a marker of the
openness of this court to really allowing for funding of—as Sotomayor says, “If you
can fund the rubber stuff in playgrounds, why not the pews? Why not the stained-glass windows?” And I think she’s pointing to a real trend
we’ve seen in the last few years at the Supreme Court. AMY GOODMAN: Could you also comment, Dahlia
Lithwick, on the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the case of the Colorado baker who refused
to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, citing his religious opposition? DAHLIA LITHWICK: Yeah, as I said, there have
been a whole bunch of similar cases that the court has batted away, people who are saying,
“Look, you know, I’m not discriminating against anyone. I have a deeply held religious conviction
that precludes me from offering these services.” The baker in question says he’s a “cake
artist,” and this actually violates his free expression, to force him to produce a cake
that is in tension with his own religious values. And he says, “Look, I don’t, you know, cook
with liquor, because that’s against my values. I don’t celebrate Halloween. That’s against my religious values.” So he’s making this core argument that my
religious dissent matters here. And as I said, we’ve seen pharmacists make
the same arguments and florists make the same arguments. The problem, Amy, is that states have antidiscrimination
laws. Colorado is one of those states. The appeals court in Colorado said, “You can’t
get around our antidiscrimination laws by saying that you don’t feel like baking for
certain people because of your religion.” And I really do think, when the court decided
the Hobby Lobby case, when they kind of cracked open the door for religious dissenters to
be able to do an end run around basic civil rights laws, they really opened a Pandora’s
box that is going to end up saying we will have such solicitude in this country for religious
dissenters that nobody is going to have to serve anyone if they feel that their religious
values are being undermined. And as I said, I think this is the new frontier,
going forward. This is where we’re going to see a lot of
action, particularly with Neil Gorsuch now on the court.




Comments
  1. A behavior (sex act between same gender) is not an ethnicity, nor is it a "race".
    Behaviors fall under the precepts of Religion.
    One doesn't attempt to impose (the behavior of) alcohol consumption upon a Muslim,
    nor would one attempt to make anyone Jewish (engage in the behavior of) eating pork… which is against Christianity as well. This is against their religion and they according to the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights may not be coerced to act otherwise in any capacity.

    An individual does have the constitutional right to refuse to service a "behavior" that is imposed
    upon him/her on "Religious grounds" and accordingly under freedom of Religion, one may not "coerce"
    that individual.

    Which is exactly what these Same Gender Sex practitioners intended to do … coercion.
    There were, and are, several other cake shops and bakeries that would've enthusiastically accepted
    the order. However the Same Gender Sex practitioners intentionally sought this man out to impose
    their behavior and coerce his compliance.
    That in itself is an act of Terrorism.

    The owner of the business does have the right under the Constitution to refuse the order on religious grounds.

    Now concerning the other half of the "FUCKERY" !!!
    There is a specific article in the Constitution about separation of Church and State.
    This has been constantly violated ever since Reagan.
    And the epitome of this was the Faith Based Initiative by George "the Coke Fiend" Bush.
    For the United States government to be funding specific Religious institutions is strictly forbidden.

    Those Hypo-Christians aka Fascist attempting to disguise their agenda and bigotry behind the mask of faith need to seriously fall back.… or be put out of everyone's misery.
    By any means necessary.

  2. This country is broken. Much as I hate the idea of another civil war, I would much rather suffer a major government breakdown than to endure any more of this exploitation. We've too many corrupt justices and Federal judges. The rich own the politicians and only seek to become richer. The media likewise is owned or suppressed. Over half the US population believes in an invisible man in the sky, and reject verified data on climate change. All checks and balances are gone.

  3. you so called progressive was bitching about Hillary, its you fucking fault. the right wing will always win because they have unity
    the always fall in line

  4. There is so much to say about this …🙀🇨🇦🇲🇽 …and in the secondary opinion, in roe vs wade, Justice O'Connor was clear in that her decision was based partially on if a government can tell a woman she can't have an abortion then it could become a government that can tell women they can't have children. In a situation of slippery slopes, a government that begins to show favouritism with religion, or one religion, can turn around at some point to directly oppress a religion, or multiple religions. The more extreme the law, the more extreme the opposite law is now possible

  5. Ok so fine. Taxpayer funding can go to churches? Then churches should pay taxes on their profits because they are businesses after all.

  6. private property is private. I believe it was Murray Rothbard who said that the right to enter into a contract entails the right to not enter into a contract. Stop forcing owners of private bakeries to bake your cakes.

  7. Thanks, Democracy Now!:) Now i have to Fire the Baker if he excludes any particular Demographic! It's so suffocating having to act like a bigot.

  8. ok, there's a solution to all this, if you have religious objections to serving anyone in the public domain then you must do that within a private organization, like your church or home, not an overtly publicly-accessible one, your rights are not infringed on and neither is the public's. Sorted! Now, where's my cloak?!

  9. But isn't that why parents pay tuition at private schools? My mom paid a boatload to send me to Baptist school.

  10. I totally agree with the ruling in these cases a company should not be forced to serve people it does not want to serve. This is not a dictatorship

  11. All religions are State religions. Each person has in their own heart the rules of love. everyone knows how love works….its the only law.

  12. The thing is, it does not actually come down to Religious freedom, because the bible does not actually say anything against homosexuality. There are plenty of statements against many 'sins', but unless it is a newer bible I have not read, there is nothing directly against sexuality. And if it is a more modern rewrite, does that make religiously appropriate, or simply perspective ignorance?

  13. Implying it's a problem that the government can't force you to provide services to people you don't want. Do you even freedom yo?

  14. time for Satanists to start opening up business's that reject Christians, maybe they can take over Amazon and make it openly Satanic?

  15. Once Someone's god chimes in so we don't have to fall back on Faith like all religious people do, then I'll listen. Bad call Justices.

  16. They didn't fund a church playground. They funded a SCHOOL playground. Being church run is irrelevant. SCOTUS ruled a long time ago, that stopping funding for schools BECAUSE they are associated with a church violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The establishment clause works both ways. Government cannot aid OR hamper a religious organization. So, if they fund school playgrounds, they have to fund school playgrounds without respect to it's religious or non-religious affiliation. They made the right decision, and goodness I'm happy for the first amendment, as should you be.

  17. I refuse to perform health care services to cops bc it's against my religion to kill unarmed citizens without due process. Boom!

  18. amazing isn't it?  almost everything that people want is being ignored, and the opposite is being passed into law, very reminiscent of king george III and the colonies…
    1) the people want gun control, legislators pass laws to put more guns into society,
    2) the people want universal health care, congress pushes for millions to lose health care,
    3) the  people want separation of church and state, the supreme court rules against it.
    4) the people want a strong public school system, the president, congress and the courts all rule to gut public education.
    5) the people want to end the drug war, the new administration promises to escalate the drug war.
    6) the people want an end to wars and war profiteering, the trump administration is forcing us into more confrontations.
    7) the people want the right to choose, trump, states, congress, and the courts are dismantling that right.
    8) the people want to right to form unions and collectively bargain, congress and states are outlawing that choice.
    9) the people want a higher minimum wages, legislatures are ignoring these pleas.
    10) the people want free education, legislators are saddling young people with 10's of 1000's of dollars of debt before they even start working.
    11) the people want money out of elections, the supreme court rules corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.
    12) the people want clean water, air, and land, the president allows coal waste to be dumped into rivers, oil pipelines to be built under drinking water, and fracking to continue to contaminate land and drinking water.
    13) the people believe global warming is real, the administration and congress continue to deny it.
    14) the people want livable wages and benefits, legislatures continue to give tax cuts to the wealthy and cut social programs to the needy.
    15) the people want changes to prevent police violence, legislatures line up to defend cops and their crimes.
    16) the people want real news, congress continues to allow media giants to gobble up all media to the point 6 right wing corporations own over 80% of all media.
    17) the people wanted those who committed fraud during the 2008 economic crash to be prosecuted, the president and legislature look the other way.
    18) the people want tax havens and corporate tax holes closed, congress and the president are proposing more tax cuts for the wealthy.
    19) the people wanted a bail out, the people got nothing from their government but a lecture on being responsible and creating your own breaks.
    20) the people want a revolution.

  19. looks like its time to open up a local chapter of the Church of Satan to test how this will work…

  20. You'd be hard pressed to find a place in the New Testament in which any of the writers would ever suggest that we should choose away from service for such a reason. We are to love others as the father does. He send the sun and the rain on the just as well as the unjust.

  21. I actually think the gay couple suing over the wedding cake is wrong. I share the left wing orientation of Democracy Now and its audience. I hope the supreme court rules against the business owner specifically because it sets a legal precedent, and I don't think businesses should be able to deny needed services on legal grounds. But in a non legal, personal way, I absolutely think the wedding cake guy has the right to say no to the gay couple because he doesn't see gay marriage as legitimate. I do support anti discrimination laws in regard to necessities like housing and whatnot. But within their religious tradition, yes marriage is between a man and a woman. And it is incredibly petty and obnoxious for the gay couple to make a legal fight out of the baker's personal decision. Trying to shove tolerance down people's throats is the wrong approach.

  22. Church and State news are great news because now by law the government can provide for MOSQUES, Synagogues or Satanic Temples…

  23. It's way easier to just hate your country and laugh at it these days than to still care and just keep feeling sorry for you :/

  24. it's time to start taxing these churches. they pay zero taxes. not even property taxes. my business is land development and these churches are making bank and paying zero.

  25. Why don't all the religious institutions just pay taxes and then they can access public funds? No problem.

  26. Why is the government embracing/making use of Christianity? America is not supposed to be a theocracy. Churches should be taxed.

  27. Time they start paying taxes then. What right do they have, being tax free, to anything from the government? So now we let the GOP and Trump get away with putting that extremist, Gorsuch, in the Supreme Court, the church will have their cake and eat it too…..

  28. America is a nation founded on genocide perpetrated against Native Americans and slavery perpetrated against Africans brought here in bondage for purchase. Sounds Christian to me!

  29. everyone needs to chill the fuck up, they founded the school not the church.. get that through your heads.
    The problem is you people have schools run by churches(that's the frikin problem), but once you allow that, you can't discriminate them.

  30. I was wondering it sounded like this church also ran a school right? I thought in that case there isn't much of a problem am I missing something?

  31. It seems to me that if Churches want the same things that everyone else gets then they should have to pay taxes like everyone else does!!!

  32. So I guess we will have to wait for a madras operating in the U.S. to eventually be taken over by terrorist minded radical to get a federal grant for a playground/war fighting obstacle training course before the Court realizes this abuse of First Amendment principle that retrains the government from such an absurd entanglement.

  33. religion is a belief system, what if a baker says he doesn't belief in black ppl and white ppl marrying.

  34. The Justice's opinions are violating the basic tenets of the US Constitution. That's why I call these laws are color of law a fiction.

  35. just so yall know, those tire flooring deals are bad. if a kid falls on that stuff you can bet it still hurts like hell. soft my ass.

  36. yea I think the separation of church and state was profoundly violated when tax payer funded grants for playgrounds was approved by the Supreme Court for a church school in Missouri ….

  37. I never saw this coming, from U.S. supreme court ignoring the constitution, or intentionally so severely misinterpreting or ignoring U.S. laws. What do
    we need the Supreme Court for if they decide to ignore our constitution and U.S. laws? I think we need a four year moratorium Supreme Court justices trampling on our constitution or current laws. I see that corruption our presidency, all his White House cabinet picks, his anti-government choices to lead some of our most important government agencies, his anti American Supreme Court justice pick. Then we had our most corrupt ever Congress are quickly rubber stamping his horribly inappropriate choices, to distract the public while they work secretly to sabotage various important social programs, ignoring the U.S. public's interests in favor of major tax cuts for billionaires and various huge corporate giveaways. We all need to do something now to fix this destructive mess.

  38. The right to worship or not. The right to choose one of the few world majority faiths or one of the many minority religions. I live in a free society which has a separation of church and state. How, when, why, where I worship is my private choice and a freedom I'm proud to exercise.

  39. Satan, working for America! All churches who collect money are a false religion period. God doesn't group with any government or any unholy church on this earth. Gods religion has been trampled on and done away with by these same churches because they do not know God. God doesn't dwell in temples made by hands or any unholy temples. So that makes churches a false religion but makes a good playground for satan. Men's Religion has deceived the people in this country and the whole world.

  40. If a church does not separate church and state and they invite millions of illegals into the country and give them welfare then they should most definitely pay taxes!🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  41. Well then by God if the state can't give money to a church, then it can't tax them either whether they engage in political speech. Furthermore, if we don't tax citizens for engaging in free political ,religious or otherwise speech, we shouldn't tax our churches. Way to go Supreme court!!!!

  42. fucking churches pay no taxes and we shouldn't pay for them to play….WTF is with our government…these fuckers got to go NOW!!!

  43. fucking Devos shouldn't even be in office…WTF ..trump and his bitches all got ot go…and FUCK the supreme court also

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