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In Major Decision US Supreme Court Allows Some State Funding of Religion

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  • Justice Sotomayor Blasts Majority Opinion Written by Chief Justice Roberts
  • Justice Roberts Wrongly Says All That Banning State Funding of Church Facility Achieves Is “A Few Extra Scraped Knees”
  • Reduces Church and State Separation

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning ruled 7-2 that the government cannot ban a religious organization from receiving taxpayer funds for programs that supposedly do not have religious intent. The case involves a Missouri church that was denied funds from a state program that gives funds for schools who resurface playgrounds with materials made from recycled tires or tire scraps.

In what some see as turning separation of church and state on its head, the court ruled that because an organization is based in religion, the government cannot discriminate against it by denying it funds for projects or programs that are not religious in nature.

Sure, there is a public good in playgrounds for school children being safe, and the Missouri program presumably reaches that goal. But the church, Trinity Lutheran, or any religious institution that apparently is now able to use taxpayer dollars for “non-religious” programs easily could use that same playground to teach children the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination and gay people should be put to death. 

NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams makes the Court’s ruling clear.

“The U.S. Supreme Court reduced the wall of separation between church and state Monday in one of the most important rulings on religious rights in decades,” Williams reports. “The decision could doom provisions in 39 states that prohibit spending tax dollars to support churches. The states defended the limits as necessary to keep the government from meddling in religious affairs.”

An anti-gay hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom, argued the case on behalf of the church. The case is Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer.

Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion.

“The exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution . . . and cannot stand.”

ADF attorney David Cortman “argued that the government should be neutral toward religion,” Williams notes. “Blocking the church from a widely available public program, he said, ‘imposes special burdens on non-profit organizations with a religious identity’ and amounted to hostility toward religion.”

But Missouri had claimed that its constitutional provision did nothing to interfere with a church’s religious activities. James Layton, the state’s former solicitor general, said Trinity Lutheran “remains free, without any public subsidy, to worship, teach, pray, and practice any other aspect of its faith however it wishes. The state merely declines to offer financial support.”

In the minority were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the dissenting opinion. In a rare move for any justice, for only the second time in her eight years on the court Justice Sotomayor read aloud her dissent from the bench.

“To hear the Court tell it, this is a simple case about recycling tires to resurface a playground,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “The stakes are higher. 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. Its decision slights both our precedents and our history, and its reasoning weakens this country’s longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both.”

“Properly understood then, this is a case about whether Missouri can decline to fund improvements to the facilities the Church uses to practice and spread its religious views. This Court has repeatedly warned that funding of exactly this kind—payments from the government to a house of worship—would cross the line drawn by the Establishment Clause.”

In this excerpt Sotomayor diplomatically blasts the Chief Justice, who wrote the majority opinion:

So it is surprising that the Court mentions the Establishment Clause only to note the par-ties’ agreement that it ‘does not prevent Missouri from including Trinity Lutheran in the Scrap Tire Program.’ … Constitutional questions are decided by this Court, not the parties’ concessions. The Establishment Clause does not allow Missouri to grant the Church’s funding request because the Church uses the Learning Center, including its playground, in conjunction with its religious mission. The Court’s silence on this front signals either its misunderstanding of the facts of this case or a startling departure from our precedents.”

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Image by Ian Dick via Flickr and a CC license 

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DONALD TRUMP IS A FASCIST

US Organization Promoting Freedom in Other Countries Issues Warning to America

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Freedom House, a U.S government-funded but independent non-profit (NGO) founded in 1941 to promote democracy, advance freedom, and fight fascism around the world on Wednesday found itself facing fascism at home.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was Freedom House’s first co-chair. The organization was “founded on the core conviction that freedom flourishes in democratic nations where governments are accountable to their people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, and belief, as well as respect for the rights of women, minorities and historically marginalized groups, are guaranteed.”

On Wednesday President Donald Trump refused to commit to the peaceful transition of power, saying, “get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very trans- — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly; there’ll be a continuation.”

Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power – never before in question since the Declaration of Independence was signed 244 years ago – was by default a threat of violence, as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said.

Wednesday evening Freedom House issued what amounts to a warning – to its fellow Americans.

“A key tenet of democracy is that politicians respect the electoral process and the will of the people,” Freedom House said via Twitter. “There is nothing more anti-democratic than a leader who refuses to concede defeat.”

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THIS IS FASCISM

‘Trump Is Advocating Civil War’: Reporter Stunned When President Refuses to Commit to Peaceful Transfer of Power

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, instead sending a message to Democrats to “get rid of the ballots.”

Trump’s remarks were so disturbing the reporter who asked the question called it “the most frightening answer I have ever received to any question I have ever asked.”

Veteran journalist Brian Karem, a political analyst for CNN and the White House correspondent for Playboy, had asked the President the very simple question.

“Well we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump replied. “I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, the ballots are a disaster.”

“Get ri9d of the ballots and you’ll have – we’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there will be a continuation.”

“The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it? The Democrats.”

Ballots are how Americans cast their votes, and have been doing so for centuries.

Watch:

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VLAD ON LINE ONE?

‘I Have to Leave for an Emergency Phone Call’: Trump Splits From His Own Press Conference for a ‘Big Call’

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President Donald Trump was late for his 6:00 PM press conference and literally left in the middle for an “emergency” phone call.

“I have to leave for an emergency phone call,” Trump told reporters in the White House press briefing room. As he tried to leave one reporter peppered him with spot-on questions about this afternoon’s decision by a grand jury to not charge any of the three Louisville police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor.

Asked what the call was about, Trump replied, “I have a big call.”

Watch:

 

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