Election Summary Zoom Call
Join me this Friday night (Dec. 4th) at 7:00 PM for a Zoom Video Conference Call for a summary and analysis of our election activities. Many of you supported our Pews to the Polls campaign with your finances, prayers, and volunteering; so we thought it would be encouraging to give a report on how the League did with our efforts to identify and motivate pro-life voters. I will be joined on the video conference by the League’s policy director, Mike McClellan, and special consultant, Zach Freeman. Click the button below to register for the call.
SCOTUS Rejects NY Covid Restrictions on Churches
Last Wednesday, the immediate impact of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s presence on the Supreme Court was realized when the nation’s highest court ruled Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Covid 19 restrictions unconstitutional. Justice Barrett joined her four conservative peers while Chief Justice Roberts once again aligned himself with the progressives on the bench. Here is significant quote from the majority report:
“In a red zone, while a synagogue or church may not admit more than 10 persons, businesses categorized as “essential” may admit as many people as they wish. And the list of “essential” businesses includes things such as acupuncture facilities, camp grounds, garages, as well as many whose services are not limited to those that can be regarded as essential, such as all plants manufacturing chemicals and microelectronics and all transportation facilities. The disparate treatment is even more striking in an orange zone…. These categorizations lead to troubling results. At the hearing in the District Court, a health department official testified about a large store in Brooklyn that could “literally have hundreds of people shopping there on any given day.”
Yet a nearby church or synagogue would be prohibited from allowing more than 10 or 25 people inside for a worship service. And the Governor has stated that factories and schools have contributed to the spread of COVID–19, but they are treated less harshly than the Diocese’s churches and Agudath Israel’s synagogues, which have admirable safety records.”
While specific implications are not yet known for churches in Maine, here are a couple important takeaways:
The court clearly communicated that the First Amendment is not suspended during a crisis: “But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten” (see p. 5 of the opinion https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20a87_4g15.pdf?mc_cid=cad3020bf7&mc_eid=6a4adf94d3). While many have anecdotally assumed this, it is very helpful to have this declared in a decision.
At the heart of the argument was the majority’s concerns with the unequal treatment of “essential” and “non-essential” entities. It seems the court recognized the conscientious and effective measures churches and synagogues were taking to protect attendees. In other words, churches demonstrating effective self-policing relative to limiting the spread of COVID-19 will likely matter in any future religious liberty cases.
Click here to read Thomas Moore Society’s (law firm representing NY Diocese) blog regarding the SCOTUS decision.
Even though we are facing restrictions due to the pandemic, we are still willing to serve your ministry by speaking in person or recording services for you. If you are interested in the League helping out with your pulpit needs, contact Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org