Dear Friend,

I want to update you on some important decisions made by the United States Supreme Court this week as President Trump’s nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, takes his seat on the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court released several decisions that have a significant impact on many Americans:

The Court ruled in a 7-2 decision that the government cannot withhold or deny a public benefit from a church based on its religious status. The case involved Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri, who was denied funding for a playground that is used by the surrounding community. The state had decided that allowing the church to participate in the reimbursement program would go against a provision in the Missouri constitution. That provision blocks state involvement “in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion.” Trinity Lutheran argued that it was discriminated against based on religion. The United States Supreme Court agreed.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, where he stated:

“This Court has repeatedly confirmed that denying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion… The exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand.” 

Also this Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to let portions of President Donald Trump’s travel ban Executive Order take effect until the Supreme Court hears arguments on it in October. The Executive Order puts a spotlight on our national security by denying visas to citizens of the six main countries with known ties to terrorist networks, and stops admission of refugees from across the globe until they can be properly verified.

The Supreme Court has also agreed to make a decision on American’s basic religious freedoms by agreeing to hear arguments from the owner of a Colorado bakery who was taken to court for declining to provide services for a same-sex marriage. This will be one of the first major cases taken up by Justice Neil Gorsuch in his first term on the bench.

These decisions from the United States Supreme Court this week highlight the important role that the judiciary plays in the American government and the day-to-day effect that the court has on Americans.

It is an honor to serve you in Congress.

God Bless,

Gregg Harper
Member of Congress