Today the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the state of New York cannot limit attendance in houses of worship.
Gorsuch filed an unusually acerbic concurring opinion, blasting not only Governor Cuomo but also Chief Justice Roberts for his earlier opinion in the California and Nevada cases.
Referring to the more lax rules for New York retailers, Gorsuch opined that “at least according to Governor Cuomo, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians,” a reference to acupuncture being unregulated.
And when it came to Roberts, Gorsuch spent several pages accusing him of “rewriting history” in his dissenting opinion on Wednesday and his earlier opinions in the California and Nevada cases.
“In the end,” said Gorsuch, while Roberts and the other dissenters may wish to “stay out of the way” and let state officials and experts deal with the crisis of a pandemic, “we may not shelter in place where the Constitution is under attack.” There is, he wrote, “no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
Roberts replied with a slap-down of his own. Quoting from Gorsuch’s acid dismissal of the dissenters’ views, the Chief Justice said he did not regard his dissenting colleagues with such venom: “They simply view the matter differently after careful study and reflecting their best efforts to fulfill their responsibility under the Constitution.”
As to Gorsuch’s concurrence, which, as Roberts put it, “takes aim at my [earlier] concurring opinion,” Gorsuch had engaged in such overkill that he spent “three pages” criticizing one sentence.
And “what did that sentence say?” asked Roberts. “Only that our Constitution principally entrusts the safety and health of the people to the politically accountable officials of the states to guard and protect.”
Those words, said Roberts, “should be uncontroversial, and the [Gorsuch] concurrence must reach beyond the words themselves to find the target it is looking for.”
Read the entire piece here.
Several conservative evangelicals see this as a major victory for religious liberty and the church. For example, here is the Trump-voting president of the Evangelical Theological Society:
I am coming late to this today because I am eating turkey and hanging out with the family. So I will just post some tweets from people who seem to understand what this is really about.
A church is not a bike shop or a wine story. Sorry Neil Gorsuch:
Scott Coley nails it:
This is what Christian thinking looks like on this matter. (As opposed to First Amendment thinking):
Sotomayor’s decision seems Christian to me:
David Dark is right. But at least Trump delivered on the Supreme Court for Al Mohler.
UPDATE (November 27, 2020 at 12:06PM): John Inazu, a Washington University law professor and author of Confident Pluralism, has weighed-in on the case at Ed Stetezer’s blog at Christianity Today.