By MARK SHERMAN and MARIA DANILOVA
WASHINGTON (AP) - Justice Neil Gorsuch's first week on the Supreme Court bench features an important case about the separation of church and state that has its roots on a Midwestern church playground. But the outcome could make it easier to use state money to pay for private, religious schooling in many states.
The justices on Wednesday will hear a Missouri church's challenge to its exclusion from a state program that provides money to use ground-up tires to cushion playgrounds.
Missouri is among roughly three dozen states with constitutions that prohibit using public money to aid a religious institution, an even higher wall separating government and religion than the U.S. Constitution erects.
Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, says its exclusion is discrimination that violates its religious freedoms under the U.S. Constitution.