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>> It may look like a simple playground dispute, but it's one of the Supreme Court's most closely watched cases. One that could weaken the wall between church and state. The high court on Monday set to rule on whether Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri can receive state funds to resurface its playground for preschoolers.
Trinity Lutheran having sued the state after being denied taxpayer dollars due to a provision in Missouri's constitution that bars state funding for religious entities. Both sides arguing their case before the nine justices in April.>> When the government is engaging in safety benefit programs, it should want all kids to be safe.
It shouldn't matter what their status is, it shouldn't matter where they decide to attend school.>> This is a fundamental principle of religious liberty in this country that the government does not find religious exercise.>> Two of the court's liberal justices, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, joining their conservative colleagues in signalling support for the church, during the oral arguments.
The case also one of the first to be heard by newly appointed conservative justice Neil Gorsuch. A broad ruling backing the church could hearten religious conservatives.>> In favor of eroding the barrier between church and state. Including using taxpayer money to pay for children to attend private religious schools rather than public schools through school voucher programs.
A policy strongly supported by President Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos. The U.S. top court also set to rule on three immigration cases Monday. And is expected to decide in the coming days whether to reinstate Trump's travel ban while the government's court appeal is pending. All this amid talk that swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy, is considering retirement.
Potentially giving Trump a historic opportunity to recast the high court in a more conservative posture.