WASHINGTON (RNS) — At the Supreme Court Tuesday (Dec. 5), the justices lobbed hypothetical after hypothetical at the lawyers representing each side of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a free speech case rooted in the religious convictions of the plaintiff — and one of the most publicized cases of the year.
The U.S. Supreme Court sided on June 26 with a Missouri church seeking aid from taxpayers to improve its playground. The justices handed down the ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer on the last day of its 2016-2017 session, overturning lower court decisions and creating an exception to the Missouri Constitution’s prohibition against funding houses of worship. Yet, due to a contentious footnote, both supporters and critics of the church’s argument believe future cases will determine the scope of the shift in church-state relations created by the case.
By the time our April issue lands in mailboxes, we might have a ninth U.S. Supreme Court justice for the first time since Antonin Scalia’s death more than 13 months ago. The resume of Judge Neil Gorsuch, a reliable conservative justice, suggests he will soon move to Washington, D.C., to become the first Protestant on the high court since 2010.