Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, No. 14-1382 (8th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Trinity operates on its church premises a licensed preschool and daycare, the Learning Center, which has an open admissions policy. It teaches a Christian world view and incorporates daily religious instruction in its programs. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grants, a solid waste management program, providing funds for the purchase of recycled tires to resurface playgrounds. In 2012, Trinity applied for a grant, disclosing that the Learning Center was part of Trinity. DNR denied the application, stating that the Missouri Constitution specifically provides that “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, section or denomination of religion.” Trinity’s application ranked fifth out of 44 applications and 14 projects were funded. Trinity sued, citing the Equal Protection Clause; its right to free exercise of religion; the Establishment Clause, and its right of free speech. The district court dismissed and declined to reconsider in light of evidence that the DNR had previously given Scrap Tire grants to 15 religious organizations, including churches. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, citing precedent that concluding that Missouri Constitution Article I, section 7 does not conflict with the First Amendment or the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
- Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, No. 15-577 (U.S. Jun. 26, 2017)