SCOTUS Thanksgiving decision start of ultraconservative push, asserts FFRF's Andrew Seidel

Andrew L. Seidel, FFRF’s director of strategic response, has written an op-ed for Religion Dispatches about the Supreme’s latest attempt to weaponize religious freedom. The article, “With this Thanksgiving bombshell SCOTUS began implementation of an ultraconservative agenda,” begins:

The unsigned, midnight opinion dropped like a bombshell on Thanksgiving. Five ultraconservative members of the Supreme Court, including Amy Coney Barrett, issued an emergency opinion in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo blocking New York’s health order as it applied to some churches.

The metaphorical bombardment is particularly apt here because this opinion weaponized religious freedom and came as something of a surprise to the country — though of course it shouldn’t have been.

Just a few weeks ago, I warned that Barrett would “flip the high court on an issue that is crucial for America to fight the coronavirus, just as the pandemic is flaring up. Barrett telegraphed a willingness to overturn public health measures in the name of God.” If RBG had been alive and on the court it would have been a 5-4 decision the other way.

The short, unsigned opinion, joined by Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, stated that churches’ right to religious freedom includes the right to risk the health, safety, and lives of everyone in the community. The justices took a hallowed constitutional protection and made it into a tool to afflict and wound — beating a plowshare into a sword. To do this, the justices made this into a case of religious discrimination. That is simply not the case. The justices had to torture the facts and sought to create an impression of discrimination where there was none. ...

Seidel gets into the divide on the court between Roberts and the other conservatives and explains that no, this was not really a case about religious discrimination. In fact, the churches were actually given favorable treatment under the public health orders in ways that FFRF has been protesting for some time. Read the whole article on Religion Dispatches.

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