The Supreme Court heard another case pitting religious “liberty” against science and—hey, ho!—science lost again.
Religious liberty is a bedrock American value. It doesn’t simply protect believers’ right to believe; it also, perhaps indirectly, helps preserve my right not to believe. If Mormons aren’t allowed to believe in sacred underwear, how long will it be before I’m told I have to stop reading Jeremy Bentham essays before bed? (For the record, I don’t, but “Jeremy Bentham essays” sounds marginally more impressive than “Archie comics.”)
But while I’m personally not religious, I strongly support the right of all citizens to believe whatever they want to, so long as it doesn’t, you know, exacerbate a pandemic that’s already killed more than 470,000 Americans and, for all I know, could be closing in on me.
While he was campaigning for a job he apparently assumed he’d keep until his purpling corpse was wheeled from the Oval on a flotilla of Costco flat carts, Donald Trump promised he’d appoint “pro-life” Supreme Court justices. What he really meant was he’d appoint anti-abortion religious zealots, because the conservatives on the court look pretty effing “pro-death” to me.
A divided Supreme Court blocked California’s Covid-related ban on indoor worship services in a late-night order Friday but allowed other restrictions affecting houses of worship to remain in place.The justices fractured in the two cases — the latest to come before the court pitting religious groups against city and state officials seeking to stop the spread of the pandemic.California has instituted a tiered system that resulted in a total ban on indoor services in some counties. The court blocked the prohibition on indoor worship services in the most hardly hit areas, but allowed some limitations based on capacity percentages to stay in place as well as a prohibition on singing and chanting during indoor services.
In four separate opinions, the justices staked out familiar ground. Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch were ready to give the churches everything they asked for, whereas Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor sided with the state of California.
In her dissent, Kagan wrote that “justices on this Court are not scientists, nor do we know much about public health policy.” She added, “In the worst public health crisis in a century, this foray into armchair epidemiology cannot end well.”
Wait! She wasn’t done there.
The cases, which challenged California’s restrictions on indoor gatherings, were brought by Harvest Rock Church and South Bay United Pentecostal Church.
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