Today the U.S. Supreme Court announced the Court's decision in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. This marked the first major religious liberty case since Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Court earlier this year. Family Research Council, as a part of a coalition, submitted an amicus brief in the case.
This win for Trinity Lutheran Church is a win for the freedoms that Americans have long exercised.
With the recent addition of Justice Gorsuch, we are much more optimistic about the future of religious freedom in America. The Supreme Court rightly found that the freedom of religion, including that of Trinity Lutheran, is clearly protected by the Constitution. Justice Gorsuch's presence will re-enforce a welcome originalist voice in not just the Trinity Lutheran case but also plenty of pivotal cases in the decades to come.
The state of Missouri was hardly fair to this congregation, whose children at the daycare and preschool need just as much outdoor padding as others. The Court clearly understood this and ruled that it is unconstitutional to treat religious organizations differently in the public square just because they are religious.
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. The Free Exercise of religion, explicitly protected by the First Amendment, protects varied and robust religious expression in the public square. Certainly the Framers never meant to exclude churches from public life in the way the state of Missouri and lower courts have here.
The First Amendment also ensures that Americans will not be forced to adhere to whatever religious views the government deems “correct” and “orthodox.” It certainly 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 merely asking for a fair and level playing field for religious and nonreligious organizations.
Travis Weber, Esq., is Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former Navy pilot.