Trinity Lutheran Church – A Narrow Ruling With a Broad Impact?

Sarah Mills | July 10, 2017

If you’re a SCOTUS buff or a Constitutional enthusiast – or even if you’re not – you probably heard about the recent case in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, a case in which the Court held that the state of Missouri cannot categorically deny a religious institution funding for safer playground materials on account of its religious status.

Although a relatively narrow ruling, people on very different sides of the political spectrum have touted this as a significant decision – either as a serious blow to the separation of church and state, or as an affirmation of the longstanding principle that the government cannot discriminate against religious people or groups.

As part of his recent Lawline CLE program The First Amendment: Five Freedoms, Contextualized, noted Civil Rights attorney Samuel B. Cohen addressed the impact of the decision. Check out the clip from the program to learn more!



Although the Court technically decided the case under a Free Exercise analysis, and declined to reach an Equal Protection claim, Mr. Cohen suggests that the Court really used an Equal Protection rationale – holding that the church was similarly situated as other institutions and was turned down because of its status as a religious institution. Want to delve deeper? Check out Mr. Cohen's entire CLE program: The First Amendment: Five Freedoms, Contextualized

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About the Author

Written by Sarah Mills

Sarah graduated from Simon's Rock College in 2005 with a BA in Linguistics, then worked in events production for several years before she graduated from New York Law School in 2012. Before joining Lawline, she worked in litigation management as a legal auditor. She loves working as a program attorney as it combines her legal knowledge and production background. She has two kids, two cats, and loves public transit and rainy days.


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