By Robert A. Vella
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 conservative majority made big headlines today with a string of decisions on the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state, President Trump’s travel ban, restrictions on gun rights, and embattled former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Let’s get to it.
WASHINGTON, June 26 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with a church that objected to being denied public money in Missouri, potentially lessening America’s separation of church and state by allowing governments more leeway to fund religious entities directly.
The justices, in a 7-2 ruling, found that Missouri unlawfully prevented Trinity Lutheran Church access to a state grant program that helps nonprofit groups buy rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires.
Three-quarters of the U.S. states have provisions similar to Missouri’s barring funding for religious entities.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide a major case on whether business owners can refuse to service gay couples if they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds involving a Christian baker in Colorado who declined to make a wedding cake for two men.
The original travel ban, which went into effect immediately, barred all travelers from seven countries from entering the U.S. even if they had green cards, valid visas or refugee status. It led to at least 746 people temporarily detained at U.S. airports, some being deported back to their home countries, and untold numbers of others prevented from boarding their flights at airports overseas.
The revised travel ban, with the court’s limitations, can go into effect this week, based on a memorandum recently signed by the president. It allows travelers with green cards and visas to continue entering the U.S., but still forbids all refugees. That means some refugees may get stuck, but nowhere near the number of people ensnared by the first ban.
The justices on Monday left in place an appeals court ruling that upheld the San Diego sheriff’s strict limits on issuing permits for concealed weapons.
The high court also turned away a second case involving guns and the federal law that bars people convicted of crimes from owning guns.
The Trump administration had urged the court to review an appellate ruling that restored the rights of two men who had been convicted of non-violent crimes to own guns.
The federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled for the two men.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s request to let a jury instead of a judge decide whether he is guilty of a criminal charge for disobeying a court order to stop his immigration patrols.
The rejection from the nation’s highest court came hours before the retired lawman’s trial is set to begin on Monday.