Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rebuked the restrictions put in place by California and Nevada as a conspicuous disregard for the First Amendment for their coronavirus worship restrictions. He further criticized his colleagues for not considering two lawsuits during the summer where two churches fought state coronavirus worship restrictions.
“If you go to Nevada, you can gamble, drink, and attend all sorts of shows, but here’s what you can’t do. If you want to worship, and you are the 51st person in line, sorry, you are out of luck,” said Alito in a keynote address to the Federalist Society on Thursday.
He criticized Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak for allowing Nevada to favor “business interest over personal faith.“
“For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom,” said Alito. “It’s often just an excuse for bigotry, and it can’t be tolerated. Even when there is no evidence that anyone has been harmed.”
Alito said the health crisis has served as a constitutional stress test.
“It pains me to say this,” he added, “but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”
Under the guise of enforcing emergency public safety guidelines, many leaders unfairly targeted churches. Americans of all faiths need to remind officials that church is essential and protected under the First Amendment.
“I am not diminishing the severity of the viruses threat to public health. And putting aside what I will say shortly about a few Supreme Court cases, I’m not saying anything about the legality of COVID restrictions,” said Alito, adding, “Nor am I saying anything about whether any of these restrictions represent good public policy. I’m a judge, not a policymaker. All that I’m saying is this. And I think it is an indisputable statement of fact, we have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced, for most of 2020.”
We are see the gutting of First Amendment protections for the free exercise of religion and the right of assembly. There is a difference in the treatment of churches vs. secular businesses including liquor stores and so on.