The largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization said the Supreme Court’s latest church-state ruling puts public aid for synagogues on “solid constitutional footing.”
On Monday, the court ruled 7-2 that the state of Missouri should not have denied Trinity Lutheran Church a grant to build a children’s playground because of the church’s status as a religious institution, since it met the criteria for the state program.
The Orthodox Union, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, praised the ruling.
The ruling “puts state aid to synagogues (and other houses of worship) and parochial schools for security and safety measures on an explicit and solid constitutional footing,” Nathan Diament, director of the Washington O.U. Advocacy Center, said in a statement. “The chief justice’s majority opinion makes it clear that a state may not exclude an institution from a neutral government benefit program because of the institution’s religious status.”
Justice Stephen Breyer, in a concurring opinion, wrote that the state may not cut off a religious institution from “‘a general program designed to secure or to improve the health and safety of children’ without running afoul of the Constitution.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayer said in her dissent that the court’s decision “profoundly changes” the relationship between church and state by saying that the Constitution requires the state to directly fund a church project.