If you didn’t know the difference a single Supreme Court seat can make, then the most recent religious freedom decision from the Court is a good example. Unfortunately, most people haven’t heard about this case, which has gone mostly unremarked from the mainstream media.
Just before Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court handed down and injunction in a pair of cases brought against the Governor of New York. The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn (and, in a separate case, a Jewish synagogue) sued the state over Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 restrictions, arguing that churches and other houses of worship were being treated differently than stores and places of business.
Because the governor can change the level of restriction at any time (making the legal situation complicated), the Diocese asked for an injunction against the governor’s orders. The Supreme Court, by a narrow 5-4 vote, agreed with the Diocese and issued the injunction pending the final decision of the case at the appeals court (and whether the Supreme Court ends up hearing an appeal).
The most scathing opinion came from Justice Gorsuch, who drily noted the double standard that leaves secular businesses with more freedom to operate than even a very large house of worship (which could easily adhere to rules about distancing and capacity). Gorsuch also wrote:
“Government is not free to disregard the First Amendment in times of crisis. At a minimum, that Amendment prohibits government officials from treating religious exercises worse than comparable secular activities, unless they are pursuing a compelling interest and using the least restrictive means available… Yet recently, during the COVID pandemic, certain States seem to have ignored these long-settled principles.”
For anyone who has been longing to see a strong defense of religious liberty and the First Amendment, Gorsuch’s words were the answer to a prayer.
CAAP was among the organizations urging the confirmation of Gorsuch – as well as Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett. Those votes may end up saving religious freedom.
The point is not whether a particular governor’s COVID response is good or bad. We cannot allow this to be the foothold that the left uses to further persecute churches and religious organizations.
While we have enjoyed four years of an administration that supports churches and religious freedom, we must prepare for a drastic change. That’s why we need to be ready to educate and mobilize.
Thank you again for your prayers and your steadfast support. With your help we will not lose the gains we’ve made for religious freedom over the past four years. We must unite to keep our country on the right path.