Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Religious Liberty Wins Bigly at the Supreme Court

Religious liberty is winning bigly at the United States Supreme Court.  Indeed so much so, that even liberal justices are crossing over to vote for religious freedom.

Three cases handed down this sesEspinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, a case which dealt with a ban on the use of government subsidized vouchers at religious schools.  Justice Roberts, writing for the 5-4 majority, held the so-called Blaine Amendment, which bars the use of the vouchers to religious schools solely because they are religious schools, discriminates in violation of the First Amendment's religious freedom guarantee.
Little Sisters of the Poor
(Photo from
sion are of note.  Last week, the Court handed down

Liberals were outraged, claiming that the "wall of separation between church and state" was "bulldozed" by Chief Justice Roberts.   But for liberals who insist that the religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution should always take a back seat to laws setting forth "good public policy," things got much worse in two opinions handed down today.

The first case today, Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration rule exempting employers with sincerely held moral or religious objections from the Obama-era mandate that the employer include contraceptive coverage as part of its employee insurance plan.   No doubt to the consternation of liberals, themajority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, was joined in by two liberals justices on the court, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer.  Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

In the second case, the Supreme Court threw out two discrimination lawsuits filed by teachers against their religious employers.  In the opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Court held that the First Amendment protects the rights of religious institutions "to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine."   The vote in that case was also 7-2, with the same lineup as in the Little Sisters of Poor case.

No doubt my liberal friends right now are beside themselves. There are two constitutional principles that consistently baffle liberals:  federalism and religious freedom.  Regarding the former, they think states have no autonomy, and are merely subunits of the national government obligated to do whatever they are told to do by Congress or the President.  Regarding the latter, liberals believe the Free Exercise of Religion Clause is just about protecting one's right to worship as he or she sees fit, and that those religious freedoms end once one steps outside of a church.

Today, by two 7-2 decisions, the Supreme Court told my liberal friends they are wrong about the First Amendment's guarantee of religious liberty.

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