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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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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Invasion’: Texas Lt. Gov. Likens Border Crossings to Attack on Pearl Harbor – ‘These People Are a Danger to America’

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Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, a far-right Republican, is comparing migrants crossing the border into Texas to Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that killed 2335 people. He is calling it an “invasion” and says that gives the state the right to “put hands on people.”

Patrick, who because of Texas’ unique structure is more powerful than the governor, told Fox News on Tuesday, “we are being invaded, and if we’re being invaded under the constitution I think that gives us the power to put hands on people and send them back. Put hands on people and send them back,” he said repeatedly.

“These people are a danger to America,” Patrick said in a rant. It was unclear if he was referring to migrants or President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The Lt. Governor, who has hawked the racist “great replacement theoryrepeatedly, and used the term “invasionrepeatedly, told Fox News that Texas is now spending $4 billion annually on the border, while Texas National Guardsmen and Texas Rangers complain of being called up to serve, having to abandon their regular jobs, for no apparent reason.

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Blames ‘Video Game Industry’ for El Paso White Supremacist Terrorism: ‘We’ve Always Had Guns’

“This is the biggest danger we have, to your family,” Patrick says of the fentanyl crossing the border. “It’s all on Biden,” he claimed.

Last week Texas Governor Greg Abbott drew extensive criticism for using the deaths of more than 50 migrants packed into an 18-wheel tractor-trailer as a political opportunity to attack President Biden. Even some conservatives attacked Abbott for his inhumane remarks..

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS

7th Victim of July 4th Mass Shooting Dies

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Seven people have now died as a result of a gunman opening fire from a rooftop into an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

The latest victim succumbed to their injuries Tuesday afternoon, NBC 5 Chicago reported. Authorities have not identified all the victims, but have said five of those who died were adults. Another 46 people were wounded.

Police on Tuesday announced that the shooter fired at least 70 rounds into the crowd, using a “high-powered rifle” that is “similar” to a AR-15. They also revealed the suspected gunman planned the attack for weeks, purchased his weapons legally, disguised himself by wearing women’s attire to “conceal his facial tattoos and  his identity,” and to “help him during the escape.” He then walked to his mother’s house after the shooting.

Law enforcement Monday evening arrested Robert Crimo, who they say is a “person of interest,” but he has not been charged.

“There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community,” Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, their futures. There are no words I can offer to lift the pain of those they leave behind. Please know that our state grieves with you, that MK and I grieve with you.”

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CRIME

Giuliani, Graham, Eastman, Others Tied to Trump Subpoenaed by Grand Jury in Georgia Criminal Election Investigation

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Rudy Giuliani, Lindsey Graham, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis, and several others including Cleta Mitchell have been subpoenaed by a Fulton County special grand jury convened to investigate possible criminal actions or interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections.

Giuliani, Eastman, Ellis, and Mitchell, along with Kenneth Chesbro, are all members of Donald Trump’s legal team or advised the former president “on strategies for overturning Democrat Joe Biden’s wins in Georgia and other swing states,” and are now being subpoenaed, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Senator Graham (R-SC) has publicly admitted to contacting the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Also subpoenaed is attorney and podcast host Jacki Pick Deason.

“The 23-person special grand jury has heard testimony in recent weeks from a parade of witnesses, including some who had direct contact with Trump and his associates. But Tuesday’s subpoenas are the closest jurors have gotten to the inner circle of the former president,” the Journal-Constitution adds.

Eastman, the infamous author of the “coup memo,” is a former law professor and the current chairman of the anti-LGBTQ group National Organization For Marriage (NOM), which has never disavowed his actions.

“A federal judge in March,” the AJC adds, “argued that ‘it is more likely than not that President Trump and Dr. Eastman dishonestly conspired to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.'”

In the days after the November 2020 election, The Washington Post reported, Sen. Graham “questioned Raffensperger about the state’s signature-matching law and whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with nonmatching signatures, according to Raffensperger. Graham also asked whether Raffensperger had the power to toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of nonmatching signatures, Raffensperger said.”

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