CASETrinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley

Client Story
Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia

Trinity Lutheran Church has faithfully served the people of small-town Columbia, Missouri for over 90 years. Whether providing support for foster children, donating labor, food, and funds to a local county food bank, or helping with Habitat for Humanity building projects all over the community, Trinity Lutheran Church lives its mission to make disciples.

 

Another aspect of Trinity Lutheran’s ministry is to run a child learning center that is open to all members of the community with children age 2 to kindergarten. In 2012, Trinity Lutheran Church Child Learning Center sought to participate in the Playground Scrap Tire Surface Materials Grant Program that was administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The grant program recycles scrap tires into rubber playground surfaces in an attempt to reduce the amount of tires in landfills and to foster children’s safety.  The center wished to remove and replace a large portion of the pea gravel surface of its playgrounds with a pour-in-place rubberized product made from recycled tires. Replacing the surface provided a higher level of safety for the children at the center and all the children in the community who use the playground after school hours and on weekends.

Trinity Lutheran submitted its grant application, and the DNR ranked it fifth out of 44 applicants due to numerous factors, including the poverty level of the surrounding area. But, instead of awarding the grant, the DNR pointed to a section of the state constitution that prohibits government aid to religion and promptly disqualified the learning center solely because it was operated by a church.

In December 2011, the church contacted Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), requesting our intervention in the matter. After just over a year of case development, in January 2013, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of Trinity Lutheran Church against the director of the DNR. The district judge ruled for the state and dismissed the case. ADF appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which ruled to uphold the district court’s decision.

Committed to preserving the rights of the church, ADF petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2015 to take the case.

“Seeking to protect children from harm while they play tag and go down the slide is about as far from an ‘essentially religious endeavor’ as one can get,” explains the ADF petition. “The DNR’s religious exclusion sends a message that Trinity’s children are less worthy of protection simply because they play on a playground owned by a church. This is not a mild disapproval of religion.”d

The high court accepted the petition to hear the case, and oral arguments are set for 2017. 

 


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Summary
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent a Christian pre-school and daycare center excluded from a Missouri program that provides recycled tires for children’s playgrounds. Although the state highly ranked the center as qualified for the program, it denied the center’s application solely because a church runs the daycare.
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Briefs: Govt shouldn’t consider children unworthy of protection for playing on church-run playgrounds

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The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman.

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US Supreme Court agrees to tackle religious hostility by states

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US Supreme Court agrees to tackle religious hostility by states

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent a Christian pre-school and daycare center excluded from a Missouri program that provides recycled tires for children’s playgrounds. Although the state highly ranked the center as qualified for the program, it denied the center’s application solely because a church runs the daycare.

Jan 15, 2016 Read More

ADF deflates Missouri’s arguments favoring religious discrimination in playground scrap tire program

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ADF deflates Missouri’s arguments favoring religious discrimination in playground scrap tire program

State officials unlawfully exclude Christian learning center from children’s safety program

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ADF to US Supreme Court: Mo. can’t single out church preschool for discrimination

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ADF to US Supreme Court: Mo. can’t single out church preschool for discrimination

Alliance Defending Freedom filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a Missouri church pre-school and daycare center denied access to a state program that provides recycled tires to surface children’s playgrounds. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit upheld a federal court’s decision that ruled the state was justified in denying the center because a church runs it.

Nov 05, 2015 Read More

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Christian pre-school excluded from Mo. scrap tire program files appeal

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State claimed religious daycare centers can’t participate, then admits it has approved such centers on 15 other occasions

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Mo. scrap tire program runs down pre-school

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Children at Christian daycare center unworthy of recycled tires for playgrounds under state program

Jan 31, 2013 Read More
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Court Title Date
U.S. Supreme Court
Reply brief of petitioner Aug 12 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Response brief Jun 28 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Association of Christian Schools International and Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - American Association of Christian Schools Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - 34 members of Congress Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - American Jewish Committee - in support of neither party Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - 18 states Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Belmont Abbey College Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - State of Colorado Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Bronx Household of Faith Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Cato Institute Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Christian Legal Society et al. Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Council for Christian Colleges and Universities et al. Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Douglas County School District and Douglas County School Board Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - General Council of the Assemblies of God Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Institute for Justice Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Justice and Freedom Fund Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Law and religion practitioners Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Liberty Counsel and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference/Conela Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - National Association of Evangelicals Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Pacific Legal Foundation Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - USCCB et al. Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - Wallbuilders, Inc. Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - World Vision, Inc. Apr 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petitioner - American Center for Law and Justice Apr 19 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Petitioners' brief on the merits Apr 14 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Petitioners' reply brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court Dec 18 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
Brief in opposition to petition for certiorari Dec 07 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - The states of Nevada, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin Dec 07 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Dec 07 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - Association of Christian Schools International and Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Dec 07 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - The American Center for Law and Justice Dec 07 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - Foundation for Moral Law Dec 07 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
Petition for writ of certiorari Nov 04 2015
Appellate Court
En banc denial Aug 11 2015
Appellate Court
8th Circuit opinion May 29 2015
Appellate Court
State's answer brief filed with 8th Circuit Jun 18 2014
Appellate Court
Opening brief filed with 8th Circuit Apr 28 2014
Trial Court
Notice of appeal Feb 04 2014
Trial Court
Denial of motion for reconsideration Jan 07 2014
Trial Court
Reply brief in support of motion for reconsideration Dec 02 2013
Trial Court
Dismissal order Sep 26 2013
Trial Court
Complaint Jan 25 2013

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