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Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer

United States Supreme Court
137 S. Ct. 2012 (2017)



Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources (defendant) gives grant money to schools, daycares, and other nonprofits to resurface their playgrounds using rubber from recycled tires. Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. (plaintiff), applied for a grant to resurface its daycare and preschool playground, but the department denied it solely because Trinity Lutheran is a church. The department’s policy categorically disqualified all religious organizations from the program because Missouri’s state constitution prohibits public funding of religion. The church sued, arguing that the policy violated the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution. The district court dismissed the case under Locke v. Davey¸ 540 U.S. 712 (2004), which allowed a state to deny a student a scholarship because he wanted to use it to prepare for pastoral ministry. After the appellate court affirmed, the United States Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Roberts, C.J.)

Concurrence (Breyer, J.)

Concurrence (Gorsuch, J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Dissent (Sotomayor, J.)

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Questions & Answers

suggestion for dissent portion

that last dissent from Sotomayor might actually be Sotomayor and Ginsburg

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