Say what you will about President Donald J. Trump if you are a Christian, but the reality is without a Trump Administration, the Supreme Court would have ruled against religious liberty in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn’s case against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
While many Christians, conservatives and flat-out constitutionalists celebrated the ruling against Cuomo, lost in the fact is it was a 5-4 decision.
Further lost is the fact that three of the five justices who sided with America’s constitution, America’s No. 1 freedom were justices appointed by President Trump.
Justice Neil Gorsuch opened his concurring opinion with a simple statement:
“Government is not free to disregard the First Amendment in times of crisis,” he wrote. “At a minimum, that Amendment prohibits government officials from treating religious exercises worse than comparable secular activities, unless they are pursuing a compelling interest and using the least restrictive means available.”
Gorsuch acknowledges that during the COVID pandemic, certain states have ignored long-settled principles.
“The governor has chosen to impose no capacity restrictions on certain businesses he considers ‘essential,'” Gorsuch wrote. “And it turns out the businesses the governor considers essential include hardware stores, acupuncturists and liquor stores. Bicycle repair shops, certain signage companies, accountants, lawyers and insurance agents are all essential too. So, at least according to the governor, 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. Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?”
Another powerful line…
“The only explanation for treating religious places differently seems to be a judgment that what happens there just isn’t as ‘essential’ as what happens in secular spaces,” Gorsuch wrote. “Indeed, the governor is remarkably frank about this: In his judgment laundry and liquor, travel and tools, are all ‘essential’ while traditional religious exercises are not. That is exactly the kind of discrimination the First Amendment forbids.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh also wrote a concurring opinion and concluded that the applicants had shown a likelihood that the Court would grant certiorari and reverse; irreparable harm and that the equities favor injunctive relief.
This should have been a 9-0 decision in a constitutional America. If our Supreme Court justices really ruled based on the Constitution, this should’ve been 9-0 without hesitation.
But it wasn’t.
It was dangerously close to going the wrong way.
It didn’t because of President Trump. (I should also note the courage of the U.S. Senate to not appoint President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, prior to the 2016 election as well as their decision to appoint Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the fall.)
Who would have thought four years ago President Donald J. Trump would play such a role in protecting the right to worship?