For the third time in six months, the United States Supreme Court has addressed the constitutionality of government restrictions on religious worship in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This time the Court sided with religion.
In its two previous rulings, a sharply divided Court concluded that the inherent power of states to protect public health and safety outweighed the constitutional right of churches to gather for worship. But in the first of these cases, Chief Justice John Roberts, in a concurring opinion siding with the Court’s four liberal Justices to form a majority, observed:
Although California’s guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the Free Exercise [of religion] Clause of the First Amendment. Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, ...