Here’s something to be thankful for. On Wednesday night the SCOTUS granted the request of the Diocese of Brooklyn and two synagogues to block enforcement of NY state’s killer-in-chief and highest executive thug Gov. Cuomo to restrict religious worship. The thug’s executive order violated the free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment. Meanwhile litigation will continue at the 2nd Circuit US Court of Appeals. HERE
The Court was, of course, divided. Guess how. No, really… I know you already know.
Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett (hurray!) v. Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan.
In his opinion Gorsuch wrote: “if the Constitution has taken a holiday during this pandemic, it cannot become a sabbatical.”
Kavanuagh seemed to say that if the region were considered a Wuhan Devil “red” zone rather than its present lower zone, then maybe it would be different. (I’m not sure why.)
Increasingly disappointing Roberts gave us this waffle: “And it may well be that such restrictions violate the Free Exercise Clause. It is not necessary, however, for us to rule on that serious and difficult question at this time. The Governor might reinstate the restrictions. But he also might not.”
Sotomayor had a moment of clarity, writing that states “may not discriminate against religious institutions, even when faced with a crisis as deadly as this one. But those principles are not at stake today.”
What was at stake was the enforcement of the (unconstitutional) executive order while it is being challenged.
Gorsuch wrote (this is good):
“The only explanation for treating religious places differently seems to be a judgment that what happens there just isn’t as “essential” as what happens in secular spaces…. laundry and liquor, travel and tools, are all “essential” while traditional religious exercises are not. That is exactly the kind of discrimination the First Amendment forbids.”
I wonder who wrote this in the per curiam:
“Members of this Court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area. But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
Justices and judges have to follow the law.