MORRIS COUNTY BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS, ET AL.
FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, ET AL. THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN MORRISTOWN, ET AL.
FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, ET AL.
PETITIONS FOR WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW
Statement of JUSTICE KAVANAUGH, with whom JUSTICE Alito and
Justice Gorsuch join, respecting the denial of certiorari.
petitions for writs of certiorari are denied.
County, New Jersey, distributes historic preservation funds
to help preserve local buildings such as libraries,
schoolhouses, performing arts centers, and museums. As part
of that program, Morris County also distributes funds to help
preserve religious buildings such as synagogues,
temples, churches, and mosques. But it turns out that New
Jersey law, as recently interpreted by the New Jersey Supreme
Court, prohibits Morris County from awarding grants to
preserve religious buildings.
petitioners here argue that the State's exclusion of
religious buildings-because they are religious-from Morris
County's historic preservation program constitutes
unconstitutional discrimination against religion in violation
of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution. The New Jersey Supreme Court concluded that the
State's discrimination did not violate the First and
view, the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court is in
serious tension with this Court's religious equality
Court has repeatedly held, governmental discrimination
against religion-in particular, discrimination against
religious persons, religious organizations, and religious
speech-violates the Free Exercise Clause and the Equal
Protection Clause. In the words of Justice Brennan, the
"government may not use religion as a basis of
classification for the imposition of duties, penalties,
privileges or benefits." McDaniel v. Paly, 435
U.S. 618, 639 (1978) (opinion concurring in judgment). Under
the Constitution, the government may not discriminate against
religion generally or against particular religious
denominations. See Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228,
principle of religious equality eloquently articulated by
Justice Brennan in McDaniel is now firmly rooted in
this Court's jurisprudence. As Justice Kennedy later
wrote for the Court, a law may not discriminate against
"some or all religious beliefs," and "a law
targeting religious beliefs as such is never
permissible." Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v.
Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 532, 533 (1993). Put another way,
the government may not "impose special disabilities on
the basis of . . . religious status." Employment
Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494
U.S. 872, 877 (1990).
applied that bedrock principle of religious equality in
numerous cases. See, e.g, Trinity Lutheran Church of
Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 582 U.S. (2017); Good News
Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98 (2001);
Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va.,
515 U.S. 819 (1995); Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches
Union Free School Dist., 508 U.S. 384 (1993);
McDaniel, 435 U.S. 618.
example, in McDaniel, a Tennessee statute
disqualified ministers from serving as delegates to
Tennessee's constitutional convention. The Court ruled
the statute unconstitutional, explaining that the
Constitution does not allow the government to discriminate
against religious persons by prohibiting their service in a
public office. See 435 U.S., at 629.
Good News, a school district in New York allowed
residents to use the local public high school for social,
civic, and recreational events. But the school district
prohibited a religious organization from using the school,
simply because the organization was religious. This Court
held that the school district's exclusion of the
religious organization was unconstitutional discrimination
against religion. See 533 U.S., at 109.
same principle of religious equality applies to governmental
benefits or grants programs in which religious organizations
or people seek benefits or grants on the same terms as
secular organizations or people-at least, our precedents say,
so long as the government does not fund the training of
clergy, for example. See Trinity Lutheran, 582 U.S.,
at(slip op., at 13); Locke v. Davey, 540 U.S. 712,
Trinity Lutheran, Missouri barred a religious school
from obtaining a state funding grant for the school's
playground. By contrast, Missouri allowed secular private
schools to obtain state funding grants for their schools'
playgrounds. This Court held that Missouri's law was
unconstitutional. The Court stated that the Constitution
"protects religious observers against unequal
treatment." 582 U.S., at(slip op., at 6) (alterations
omitted). In the Court's description, Missouri's law
reflected an unconstitutional policy of "No churches
need apply." Id., at- (slip op., at 13-14). The
Court minced no words: Dis- criminating against religious
schools because the schools are religious "is odious to
our Constitution." Id., at (slip op., at 15).
case, New Jersey's "No religious organizations need
apply" for historic preservation grants appears similar
to, for example, Missouri's "No religious schools
need apply" for school playground grants and New
York's "No religious clubs need apply" for use
of school facilities and ...