Lansing Update
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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
June 30, 2017

  In This Update:  
  • SCOTUS Decision in Lutheran School Playground Case 'Widen[s] the Space for Conversation'
  • Catholic Bishops Call U.S. Senate to Reject Changes to Social Safety Net in Health Care Bill
  • USCCB Responds to SCOTUS Action on Refugee Travel Ban
  • Convocation of Catholic Leaders Meets in Orlando This Weekend
  SCOTUS Decision in Lutheran School Playground Case 'Widen[s] the Space for Conversation'  
The United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer that the State of Missouri preventing state grant funding for playground equipment at a Lutheran preschool was, in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, "odious to our Constitution." Michigan Catholic Conference strongly supports the majority opinion. Following the ruling on Monday, June 26, MCC President and CEO Paul Long offered comments regarding the decision and how that decision may relate to a case moving through the Michigan courts.
"The Court handed down a welcome decision today striking an inherently discriminatory practice that punished a school simply because of its religious mission. The 7-2 ruling will likely widen the space for conversation and public policies that treat all students equally, regardless of where they receive their education. Together with legal counsel, Michigan Catholic Conference will evaluate today's ruling in light of a lawsuit working through state courts that opposes a state appropriation to reimburse nonpublic schools for complying with mandatory, non-curriculum related health and safety regulations. Opponents of the appropriation are standing behind Article 8, Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution, also known as a 'Blaine Amendment,' which has roots in 19th Century anti-Catholic bigotry and today is preventing educational opportunities primarily for low-income and minority students."
  Catholic Bishops Call U.S. Senate to Reject Changes to Social Safety Net in Health Care Bill  
On Thursday, June 22, the United States Senate introduced a measure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). While reports at the beginning of the week showed the U.S. Senate would be voting on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) before the fourth of July recess, pushback from a number of senators has delayed action on the legislation. Most Reverend Frank Dewane, bishop of Venice, Florida and chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, critiqued the Senate proposal in its most recent form:
"Removing vital coverage for those most in need is not the answer to our nation's health care problems, and doing so will not help us build toward the common good. For the sake of persons living on the margins of our health care system, we call on the Senate to reject changes intended to fundamentally alter the social safety net for millions of people."
Thank you to all those who took action on our alert earlier this week, urging Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters to call for changes in the bill. Your continued action is needed to ensure these changes are made before any further action is taken.
  USCCB Responds to SCOTUS Action on Refugee Travel Ban  
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on Monday, June 26 that would allow part of the Trump administration's travel ban to go into effect. The decision narrows refugee resettlement and travel from six-Muslim majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) to only those individuals who can prove a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. This ruling will guide resettlement practices until the U.S. Supreme Court can rule on the legality of the travel ban. The court is expected to hear oral arguments on the case in the fall. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a press release following the ruling:
"Today's decision will have human consequences. While my brother bishops and I appreciate the Court's ruling to allow individuals who have a 'bona fide relationship' with a person or entity in the United States to continue arriving, we are deeply concerned about the welfare of the many other vulnerable populations who will now not be allowed to arrive and seek protection during the proscribed pause, most notably certain individuals fleeing religious persecution and unaccompanied refugee children."
  Convocation of Catholic Leaders Meets in Orlando This Weekend  
This weekend, from July 1-July 4, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is convening a historic gathering of key leaders from dioceses and Catholic organizations across the country. The goal of the Convocation of Catholic Leaders is to begin strategic conversation about forming missionary disciples that animate the Church and engage the culture. Michigan Catholic Conference's President and CEO Paul Long is moderating a breakout panel during the event called The Church's Relationship with the State, and a majority of the state's arch/bishops will also be participating in the event. To follow along with the conversation on social media, check out the hashtag #CatholicConvo.
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Michigan Catholic Conference, 510 South Capitol Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48933 Michigan Catholic Conference: The Official Public Policy Voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan Phone: (517) 372-9310, Fax: (517) 372-3940,