U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito warned against threats to religious liberty and freedom of speech imposed because of the Coronavirus that have resulted in “previously unimaginable” restrictions on Americans.
Justice Alito said last week that he doesn’t intend to downplay the “severity of the virus’ threat” to public health but called out what he sees as government overreach in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
“The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on personal liberty. We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020. Whatever one may think about COVID restrictions, we surely don’t want them to become a recurring feature after the pandemic has passed,” said Alito.
Justice Altio also stated, “tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply.” He said, “In certain quarters, religious liberty has fast become a disfavored right. For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It’s often just an excuse for bigotry and it can’t be tolerated even when there’s no evidence that anybody has been harmed.”
Justice Alito cited two cases earlier this year in which the High Court sided with states while claiming the Coronavirus as the reason for restrictions on the size of religious gatherings. In May, the Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal by a California church challenging attendance limits at worship services. The justices turned away a similar challenge by a Nevada church in July. The High Court ruled 5-4 in both cases, allowing the limitations to continue. Alito said that the resulting restrictions “blatantly discriminated against houses of worship” and he added that he believed religious liberty is in danger of becoming a “second-class” right.
“Is our country going to follow that course?” Alito said. “The question we face is whether our society will be inclusive enough to tolerate people with unpopular religious beliefs.”
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Churches have a constitutional right to meet and the First Amendment does not disappear during a crisis. It is encouraging that Justice Samuel Alito clearly understands that states are violating and discriminating against church members’ religious freedom. This unconstitutional hostility against religious worship must end.”