Amicus: Playground of Liberty

An important church-state case at the Supreme Court centers on tire scraps repurposed for kids’ play areas.

Listen to Episode 66 of Slate’s Amicus:

Newly sworn-in Justice Neil Gorsuch gets his first chance to make his mark on the court at this week’s oral arguments for Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. The important case asks whether the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause compels the state of Missouri to provide public grant money directly to a church. Holly Hollman, general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, joins us to discuss BJC’s amicus brief in the case, which argues that religious institutions are freer if they are barred from accepting government funds.


Editor’s note: Shortly after this episode was recorded, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced that the state had changed the policy at issue in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, the religious liberty case we discussed this week. The Supreme Court has instructed both sides to submit briefs on how the case may be affected by the new development, but as of publish time, oral arguments are still scheduled for April 19.


We also sit down with Jeffrey Toobin, whose piece in this week’s New Yorker examines the enormous influence the Federalist Society—and especially its executive vice president, Leonard Leo—has on the American judiciary. Toobin argues that with the ascension of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Leo can now be credited with the selection of one-third of the nation’s most powerful judges.

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Podcast production by Tony Field. Our intern is Camille Mott.