Religion

Supreme Court enjoins some California restrictions on worship

Featured image Last night, the Supreme Court ordered California to allow churches to resume indoor worship services. However, California is permitted to limit attendance to 25 percent capacity. In addition, the state’s ban on singing and chanting at religious services can remain in place for now. The Court fractured over these matters. Justices Thomas and Gorsuch would have enjoined the entire set of restrictions imposed by California. Justice Alito would have done »

Constraining Cuomo

Featured image The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the Agudath Israel and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, holding that Emmy Award-winning Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 inspired numerical capacity limits on their religious services violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. The November 25 Supreme Court order (5-4) granted an emergency injunction constraining Cuomo from enforcing the limits pending review by the Second Circuit. The Supreme »

Ninth Circuit to Nevada: You can’t treat churches worse than casinos

Featured image Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth ruled that a church is entitled to preliminary relief against an order by Nevada’s governor that treats the church worse in terms of coronavirus restrictions than numerous secular entities such as casinos, bowling alleys, retail restaurants, and arcades. The decision, by a panel of the court, was unanimous. The church, Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, had been losing on this issue in »

Chai Feldblum returns

Featured image Joe Biden, the devout Catholic who doesn’t know that the “P” in Psalms is silent, seems poised to carry on the left’s attack on religion. That’s a fair inference from the fact that his transition team includes Chai Feldblum — the prominent LGBT activist who believes that in almost all cases where the “sexual liberty” of gays conflicts with religious belief, “sexual liberty should win.” Feldblum is part of the »

Justice Alito tells it like it is

Featured image I’m a huge fan of Justice Samuel Alito. His speech to the Federalist Society this week, delivered virtually, is a good example of why. Alito’s message was that key American rights are in jeopardy. He noted, for example, that the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has resulted in previously “unimaginable” restrictions on individual liberty. “We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020,” »

Supreme Court upholds religious freedom in two major cases

Featured image The Supreme Court today handed down decisions in two important cases involving religious freedom. Considerations of religious freedom prevailed in both. In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru, the issue was whether the First Amendment’s religion clauses prevent civil courts from adjudicating employment discrimination claims brought by an employee against her religious employer, when the employee carried out important religious functions. The Court ruled that the First Amendment does »

A victory for the free exercise of religion

Featured image Last week, when I briefly previewed the remainder of the Supreme Court term, I suggested that most of the big cases wouldn’t go well for conservatives, but that conservatives might squeak out wins in the religious liberty cases. Today, the Supreme Court decided one of those cases, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and the conservative position prevailed. By a 5-4 vote, the Court held that the Montana supreme court »

Judge blocks New York’s limitation on outdoor religious services [UPDATED]

Featured image A federal district court judge today issued a preliminary injunction against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to stop them from limiting participation in outdoor religious gatherings as a response to the pandemic. The judge, Gary Sharpe (a Bush 43 appointee), emphasized that, notwithstanding the Wuhan coronavirus, Cuomo and de Blasio permitted, and indeed seemed to bless, outdoor protests following the killing of George Floyd. Judge Sharpe explained »

Will the conservatives’ losing streak at the Supreme Court continue?

Featured image Tomorrow, beginning at 10 a.m. in the East, the Supreme Court will start issuing its final opinions of the term. The big cases yet to be decided include: June Medical Services v. Russo (regarding abortion), Trump v. Mazars USA and Trump v. Vance (regarding access to President Trump’s tax returns case), Little Sisters of the Poor Sts. Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania (regarding the conscience exemption from Obamacare’s birth »

Supreme Court won’t lift California’s restrictions on church attendance

Featured image The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a request from a church in California to block enforcement of state restrictions on attending religious services. Currently, the state limits attendance at places of worship to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees. Chief Justice Roberts joined the four left-liberal Justices to form the majority in a 5-4 decision. Roberts wrote: Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular »

Minnesota governor backs down on restriction of religious services

Featured image Scott reported here on the resistance from Minnesota’s Catholic bishops and Lutheran leaders to continuing restrictions placed on religious worship by Gov. Walz. That resistance has paid off. Walz has agreed to lift his restriction on church services of more than ten people. The way is now clear for houses of worship of all faith traditions to open to larger groups starting Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The Becket Fund, which »

Trump Says: Open the Churches. Now. [Updated]

Featured image A little while ago, President Trump spoke briefly to the White House press corps, announcing that the Centers for Disease Control is about to designate churches, synagogues and mosques as essential facilities. Trump says that he is directing governors to lift their shutdown orders and allow churches to operate, now. If they fail to do so, “I will override the governors.” See the first couple of minutes of this video: »

The Pushback Continues [Updated]

Featured image Around the country, citizens are fighting back against extreme and likely illegal shutdown orders. An inspiring example comes from Minnesota, where today all of the state’s Catholic bishops signed a letter to their congregants saying that they will not obey Governor Walz’s current order. Walz modified his shutdown order again today, but it still prohibits churches from gathering in groups of more than ten. A local newscaster commented: Churches can »

Trump/Barr DOJ warns California against disfavoring churches

Featured image The Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Barr, has moved aggressively to make sure that state and local measures to contain the Wuhan coronavirus do not violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. We discussed some of the DOJ’s actions here, here, and here. Now, the New York Times reports that Justice Department has “warned California’s governor that his COVID-19 restrictions discriminate[] against places of worship »

Trump/Barr DOJ strikes another blow for religious freedom [UPDATED]

Featured image In response to the Wuhan coronavirus, Breea Clark, the Democrat mayor of Norman Oklahoma, locked the city down. When she decided gradually to reopen Norman, the ban on churches and other houses of worship from holding religious services — as well as a general ban on “large gatherings” — remained in place. Restaurants, retail stores, and salons were allowed to reopen if they adhered to social distancing policies, but regular »

Former Virginia black-facers still don’t get civil rights

Featured image Mark Herring, a Democrat, is the Attorney General of Virginia. Like Gov. Ralph Northam, also a Democrat, Herring found it amusing to wear black face. He did so at a party in 1980. Herring still doesn’t have much appreciation for civil rights. He’s defending Virginia social distancing policies that led to the pastor of a Virginia church being cited for holding a church service. There were sixteen people in the »

Trump/Barr DOJ continues to defend First Amendment rights

Featured image I wrote here about the Department of Justice’s involvement in a Greenville, Mississippi case. As I explained, Greenville’s mayor had discriminated against a religious right guaranteed by the First Amendment — the right to hold a church service. This violation resulted in litigation. The DOJ filed a statement of interest on behalf of the church in question. Greenville backed down. Now, the Justice Department has filed a statement of interest »