Supreme Court

Cuomo, COVID and the "Deadly Game"

In the last article, we saw the Court determined public health considerations cannot run roughshod over religious liberty concerns. Justice Gorsuch, who seemed particularly outraged, quipped the Constitution does not take a sabbatical during a pandemic. However, Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan disagree. They wish to continue to defer to Governors and public health orders.

Thus, according to experts, the risk of transmission is higher when people are in close contact with one another for prolonged periods of time, particularly indoors or in other enclosed spaces. The nature of the epidemic, the spikes, the uncertainties, and the need for quick action, taken together, mean that the State has countervailing arguments based upon health, safety, and administrative considerations that must be balanced against the applicants’ First Amendment challenges.

Breyer dissent, p. 4.

I suspect (but, of course, cannot prove) these Justices simply do not appreciate the importance of religious worship and are therefore incapable of adequately protecting it. I’m unmoved by stories about how Joe Biden (et al) have “deep Christian faith.” The Christian faith isn’t play-dough to be molded and appropriated by the owner. It’s objective. It has content. It has meaning. The ideologies of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (and, for that matter, President Trump) largely do not comport with the Christian faith and message.

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Cuomo, COVID, and the Notorious ACB

This past Wednesday (25 November 2020), the Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) barred restrictions on religious services in New York that Gov. Cuomo had imposed to combat COVID-19. The vote was 5-4. If the late Justice Ginsburg were on the bench instead of Amy Barrett, it would have gone the other way.

This is not a permanent decision. Justice Kavanaugh explains:

Importantly, the Court’s orders today are not final decisions on the merits. Instead, the Court simply grants temporary injunctive relief until the Court of Appeals in December, and then this Court as appropriate, can more fully consider the merits.

Kavanaugh concurring opinion, p. 1.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, along with some Orthodox Jewish synagogues, asked for injunctive relief from Gov. Cuomo’s order that “imposes severe restrictions on attendance at religious services in areas classified as ‘red’ or ‘orange; zones. In red zones, no more than 10 persons may attend each religious service, and in orange zones, attendance is capped at 25,” (Decision, p. 1).

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In a 5-4 ruling, Supreme Court sides with religious groups in a dispute over Covid-19 restrictions in New York

"In a 5-4 ruling, the US Supreme Court sided with religious organizations in a dispute over Covid-19 restrictions put in place by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo limiting the number of people attending religious services." - CNN

Also, Supreme Court blocks worship restrictions (WORLD)

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Amy Coney Barrett sizes up 30-year-old precedent balancing religious freedom with rule of law

"[Scalia] held that the Constitution does not allow religious adherents to violate a 'neutral law of general applicability,' by which he meant a law that applies to everyone and does not favor or disfavor people based on their religion or lack thereof." - The Conversation

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Justice Alito: Some COVID-19 church restrictions blatant discrimination

"The nation’s High Court allowed blatant discrimination to stand in at least two cases limiting church activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told the Federalist Society Thursday (Nov. 12)." - BPNews

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U.S. Supreme Court hears argument: Does RFRA allow monetary damages for religious liberty violations?

"Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) categorically bar successful plaintiffs from receiving a monetary award? In one of the first cases heard in the new U.S. Supreme Court term, justices heard oral arguments on that question." - BJC

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Justices Alito and Thomas' sharp criticism of the Supreme Court for Obergefell

"Thomas wrote that the 5-4 majority in a 2015 case had 'read a right to same-sex marriage' into the Constitution, 'even though that right is found nowhere in the text.' And he said that the decision 'enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots.'" - C.Leaders/AP

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