The Playground CaseTrinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer

Latest News:
Mar 22, 2017
The Supreme Court goes to the playground
Mar 6, 2017
Attacks on religious liberty were the focus of NRB panel
Oct 11, 2016
Divided Supreme Court Begins New Term in Shadow of Election Politics
Oct 7, 2016
Private school funding case put on hold
Oct 7, 2016
Slow justice: A short-handed Supreme Court begins a new term
Oct 5, 2016
Noah Feldman: Supreme Court sets itself up for a quiet term
Oct 5, 2016
Social Conservatives’ Legal Juggernaut
Oct 4, 2016
Supreme Court starts new term with more questions than answers
Oct 4, 2016
These are the cases that will define new Supreme Court term
Oct 4, 2016
Noah Feldman: Supreme Court approaches new term with caution
Oct 4, 2016
Supreme Court Preview: What You Need to Know About the 3 New School Cases at the High Court
Oct 4, 2016
U.S. Supreme Court has potent, critical cases
Oct 3, 2016
Supreme Court sets itself up for a boring term
Oct 3, 2016
A Crippled Supreme Court Awaits An Election In Which Hillary Clinton Is The Lesser Evil
Oct 3, 2016
The Supreme Court Term 2016-2017: A Sabotaged Court Tries to Carry On, With Our Rights in the Balance
Oct 3, 2016
Scalia's absence haunts Supreme Court's new term
Oct 3, 2016
Supreme Court Begins New Term Marked by Uncertainty
Oct 2, 2016
Microsoft’s Absence Shows SCOTUS Banking on 9th Justice
Oct 1, 2016
Eight-member Supreme Court returns for unpredictable term
Oct 1, 2016
Supreme Court: Some noteworthy cases coming up in new term
Sep 30, 2016
The New Supreme Court Term: Cheerleading Uniforms, Bad Banks, and a Little Girl and Her Dog
Sep 30, 2016
Significant Education Cases on Supreme Court Docket
Sep 29, 2016
Pondering the Supreme Court’s Future
Sep 29, 2016
Chemerinsky: What to look for in the new Supreme Court term
Sep 29, 2016
One Man Down: SCOTUS Faces Docket with Consequences for Communities
Sep 29, 2016
The Docket: Supreme Court to tackle religious freedom, election rules in new term
Sep 28, 2016
Too Much Order In The Supreme Court? No Thrills In Upcoming Docket
Sep 23, 2016
Supreme Court Preview: Religion and access to government programs Scott Bomboy
Sep 21, 2016
SCOTUS 2016 Term: By the Numbers(1)

Trinity Lutheran Church operates a preschool in Missouri. In 2012, Trinity applied for a playground resurfacing grant from the state. Obtaining the grant would allow Trinity to receive reimbursement for resurfacing its playground with a safer pour-in-place rubber surface made from recycled tires.

The state awarded 14 grants that year, but while Trinity’s application was ranked 5th out of 44 applications, the church was denied. Missouri determined that its state establishment clause forbids it from providing an available benefit to children—a safe playground surface—simply because the playground is on church property.


left-qouteThe term’s remaining marquee case.right-qoute

- Adam Liptak, New York Times

Meet Trinity Lutheran Preschool

Trinity Lutheran Church has faithfully served the people of Columbia, Missouri for over 90 years. Whether providing support for foster children, donating labor, food, and funds to a local county food bank, or helping with Habitat for Humanity building projects all over the community, Trinity Lutheran Church lives its mission to make disciples.

Case Documents








Frequently Asked Questions

A.  The preschool has an “open gate” playground policy. It is used by the preschool students and open to all in the community. The playground is frequently used by children in the neighborhood after-hours and on the weekends.
A.   The state program provides reimbursement to non-profit organizations for rubber safety flooring for their playgrounds, using recycled tire scraps to make a “pour-in-place” rubber surface.
A.   To decrease the amount of used tires in Missouri’s landfills and illegal dump sites and foster children’s safety.
A.   The state ranks application according to secular and neutral criteria. Some of the criteria include whether the application describes the project in adequate detail, whether the project utilizes scrap tires from within the state, the percentage of low income families in the school and the community, and whether the school presents a detailed plan for installation.

Being neutral to religion doesn't mean targeting churches and people of faith for discrimination.

Open Infographic

Would you like to set up an interview?

book an interview