Hollyn Hollman is the general counsel and associate executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief in support of the state of Missouri. She is an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where she co-teaches the Church-State Law Seminar.

Religious liberty in the American legal tradition is protected in a specific way. The principles of “no establishment” and free exercise stem from the experience of the Founding Era as reflected in the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions. Religious dissenters led the fight to separate the institutions of church and state and break free from tax support for churches. While free exercise keeps the state from interfering in religious practice, “no establishment” ensures independence of religion from the state.

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Throughout this week the blog is hosting an online symposium on Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley, the challenge by a Missouri church to its exclusion from a state program that provides grants to help non-profits buy rubber playground surfaces. Amy Howe introduced the case for this blog.

Hannah Smith and Luke Goodrich at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an amicus brief in support of petitioner in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley.

Some First Amendment cases are hard. Like a schoolyard of packed gravel, they offer no comfortable place for the Supreme Court to land.

Then there are cases like Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley. In this case, the state of Missouri decided to protect schoolchildren from hard landings by helping nonprofit organizations resurface their playgrounds with shredded tires. All sorts of nonprofits were eligible for the program – but churches were banned. According to the state, letting churches get shredded tires would violate an old state constitutional provision, called a Blaine Amendment, that was designed to block funding for Catholic schools.

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Tuesday round-up

By on Aug 9, 2016 at 10:52 am

Briefly:

  • At his eponymous blog, Lyle Denniston reports that yesterday the Justices denied rehearing in a capital case out of Louisiana “that they had passed up last Term, thus rejecting a new attempt by lawyers to turn it into a sequel to the Justices’ important Sixth Amendment ruling in January in Hurst v. Florida.”
  • In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf argues that “eminent domain is just one of many reasons to reject the proposition that it makes sense to vote Trump because his Supreme Court nominations will protect the Constitution, or the conservative or libertarian agenda, or that they will thwart the left.”
  • At his First Read, Chuck Todd of NBC News discusses the possibility that Senate Republicans could act on the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland, as well as comments by vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine which did not “close the door” on the prospect that, if elected, Hillary Clinton could make her own pick.
  • In another post at his blog, Denniston reports that “the Obama administration on Monday reluctantly agreed that it would accept some mild forms of sanctions” in the trial court proceedings in the challenge to its deferred-action policy for some undocumented immigrants.

Remember, we rely exclusively on our readers to send us links for our round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com.

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Petition of the day

By on Aug 8, 2016 at 11:13 pm

The petition of the day is:

16-63

Issue: (1) Whether the International Trade Commission’s jurisdiction over the importation of “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable” patent extends to articles that do not infringe any patent; and (2) whether the Federal Circuit erred in affirming the Commission’s assessment of civil penalties for the domestic infringement of a patent that has been finally adjudicated to be invalid.

This fall the Court will hear oral arguments in a dispute that began as a battle over a playground – or, to be precise, the surfaces of the playground at the daycare and preschool operated by a Missouri church.  The church argues that its exclusion from a state program that provides grants to help non-profits buy rubber playground surfaces violates the Constitution, because it discriminates against religious institutions.  The state counters that there is no constitutional violation, because the church can still worship or run its daycare as it sees fit – the state just isn’t going to pay to resurface the playground.  The two sides (and their supporters) do agree on one thing, however:  the stakes in the case could be far bigger than playground surfaces.

9V6A0211 (1)

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Monday round-up

By on Aug 8, 2016 at 11:08 am

More coverage relating to last week’s order blocking a federal district court’s ruling that would have required a Virginia school board to allow a transgender student who identifies as a boy to use the boys’ restroom while the dispute is being litigated comes from Lisa Keen at Keen News Service.  Commentary comes from Margaret Drew, who at the Human Rights at Home Blog suggests that, if the Court ultimately grants review, the case “will test the limits of Justice Kennedy’s empathy toward the sexually diverse.”  And in his column for The Atlantic, Garrett Epps is mostly critical of the “courtesy” vote cast by Justice Stephen Breyer to give the school board its fifth vote for a stay:  Epps writes that although he understands “the humane impulse behind Breyer’s vote,” he “would feel better about it . . . if his opinion showed any trace of awareness that his urbane gesture to placate his powerful colleagues had come at the expense of a vulnerable boy.” Continue reading »

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Petition of the day

By on Aug 5, 2016 at 11:18 pm

The petition of the day is:

15-1430

Issue: Whether, in cases with multiple judgments fixing damages, 28 U.S.C. § 1961(a) – which instructs that postjudgment interest should run from “the entry of the judgment” – requires federal courts invariably to begin running postjudgment interest from the first judgment, or whether courts may take into account other factors, such as the availability of prejudgment interest, in deciding from when postjudgment interest runs.

Friday round-up

By on Aug 5, 2016 at 6:44 am

At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser discusses the “courtesy” vote cast by Justice Stephen Breyer on Wednesday, leading to an order blocking a federal district court’s ruling that would have required a Virginia school board to allow a transgender student who identifies as a boy to use the boys’ restroom while the dispute is being litigated.  He suggests that, “should Breyer decide to cast similar courtesy votes in any voting rights case, he is likely to permanently strip voters of their ability to participate in the upcoming election. And, if an election is close, he could potentially change its outcome as well.”  Daniel Hensel reports on the order at Article 8.

Briefly:

  • In The New York Times, Peter Henning reports on Salman v. United States, slated for oral argument in October, in which the Court will “decide what type of benefit must be provided to prove a quid pro quo arrangement.”

Remember, we rely exclusively on our readers to send us links for our round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com.

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Thursday round-up

By on Aug 4, 2016 at 5:57 am

Yesterday the Court blocked a federal district court order that would have required a Virginia school board to allow a transgender student who identifies as a boy to use the boys’ bathroom until the dispute can be litigated on the merits.  I covered the dispute for my own blog, with other coverage coming from Mark Walsh at Education Week, Caitlin Emma and Josh Gerstein at Politico, Moriah Balingit of The Washington Post, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, Adam Liptak of The New York Times, and Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News. Continue reading »

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Petition of the day

By on Aug 3, 2016 at 11:23 pm

The petition of the day is:

16-32

Issue: Whether the Federal Arbitration Act preempts a state-law contract rule that singles out arbitration by requiring a power of attorney to expressly refer to arbitration agreements before the attorney-in-fact can bind her principal to an arbitration agreement.

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