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Home » National Charter Schools Week » Press Releases » Supreme Court Decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer is a Significant Victory for School Choice

Supreme Court Decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer is a Significant Victory for School Choice

(Washington, D.C.)—In a 7-2 decision today, “the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a victory for the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom for religious schools,” said Jeanne Allen, Founder and CEO of Center for Education Reform.

Trinity Lutheran had been denied state funding for a playground surface solely because its school is a religious one. The court’s 7-2 decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer finds that “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 all the same, and cannot stand.”

The Supreme Court declared that Trinity Lutheran is a “clear infringement on free exercise,” and that Missouri’s denial of funding for the school was unconstitutional.

Like many states, Missouri added a “Blaine Amendment” to its constitution in the 19th Century. In its publication Mandate for Change, CER explained that “Blaine Amendments, adopted as a result of anti-Catholic fervor in the late 1800s, prohibit the use of state funds at ‘sectarian’ schools. The wording of many of the Blaine Amendments exceeds the language of the United States Constitution. The lingering impact of these amendments has been credited with stopping school choice from becoming a reality in many states.”

Although the Court did not take the opportunity to review the constitutionality of Missouri’s Blaine Amendment, it was firm and clear that “denying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion.”

Allen said that CER “will work to ensure that there will be other opportunities for the court to review the constitutionality of Blaine Amendments and pave the way for parents to decide the best educational opportunities for their children, be they private, religious or public in nature.”

Contact: Tim Sullivan, Chief Communications Officer

Monday, June 26, 2017 (202) 750-0016 |