Thursday, September 20, 2018

Cert Filed In Case Testing Limits of Trinity Lutheran Case

A petition for certiorari (full text) was filed on Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court in Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders v. Freedom From Religion Foundation.  In the case, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that historic preservation grants to 12 churches (totaling $4.6 million) violate the Religious Aid Clause of the New Jersey Constitution.  The Court went on to hold that this interpretation does not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The petition for review frames the issues in the case as follows:
1. Whether using generally available historic preservation funds to repair or restore a house of worship constitutes a “religious use” that falls outside the scope of Trinity Lutheran [v. Comer].
2. Whether the categorical exclusion of all active houses of worship from historic preservation grants violates Trinity Lutheran and the First Amendment as an exclusion based on religious status.
Becket issued a press release announcing the filing of the cert. petition.