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Supreme Court appears ready to break down a church-state barrier in certain circumstances

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared ready to break down at least part of the longstanding church-state barrier that has prevented religious schools from receiving public funds.

The justices gave a skeptical hearing to a Missouri lawyer who was defending the state’s decision to reject a grant request from a Lutheran preschool seeking to participate in a state program that provides money to schools to rubberize the surface of their playgrounds.

Missouri’s constitution, like those in at least 36 other states, bars sending tax money to churches and church schools.

But most of the justices signaled they would rule for the church on the grounds that the refusal to fund the playground amounts to unconstitutional discrimination based on religion.

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