Perhaps gun owners might want to say to Samuel Alito Hold my beer, especially given the Supreme Court’s reluctance of late to take up Second Amendment cases. However, few would argue the justice’s point about the relatively recent hostility to free expression of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment, and not just in relation to COVID-19 shutdown orders.
The shutdowns and their arbitrary nature were the context cited last night in a speech Justice Alito gave to the Federalist Society, whose members might be surprised at just how much news they made last night. In fact, Alito made news on a variety of topics to which we’ll get in a moment, but religious liberty was clearly central to his concerns. Alito argued that it is “fast becoming a disfavored right,” as courts allow government to intrude even on religious worship, a place where they have rarely dared to venture in the past (via Newsalert):
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said the COVID-19 pandemic had led to “previously unimaginable” curbs on individual liberty, singling our restrictions on religious events. …
“We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020.”
“The COVID crisis has served as sort of a constitutional stress test,” he said during his address over a video link for the conservative organization’s annual conference. …
“Think of worship services! Churches closed on Easter Sunday, synagogues closed for Passover in Yom Kippur”, he said.
“It pains me to say this,” Alito added, “but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”