Almost immediately after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump appointed then Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill her seat. The nomination was very controversial; Barrett came under fire for her views that her critics believed would steer the balance of the court in a partisan direction. The Republican-controlled Senate upheld Barrett in the nation’s Supreme Court within a month.
And late at night, the Supreme Court decided to stop New York State from reimposing Covid-19 restrictions on religious gatherings. The verdict was 5-4, and Justice Barrett was the pivotal swing vote that stood up for her conservative counterparts.
The news prompted President Donald Trump to wish the country a “Happy Thanksgiving” when he reported on the judgment of the non-partisan SCOTUSblog, which has been reporting on the Supreme Court since 2002.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! https://t.co/56e8Qy7O22
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2020
In their decision, the majority said that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. The restrictions were different and depended on the zone: In “red” zones, postcodes where coronavirus infections are highest, no more than 10 people are allowed to attend church services. In “orange” zones, where the risk of coronavirus infection is not that high, the number of visitors is limited to 25.
The unsigned majority opinion in favor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America said the Covid-19 regulations “are far more restrictive than any Covid-related regulations previously brought to court, much stricter than those passed by many other jurisdictions severely affected by the pandemic and far more serious than has been shown to prevent the virus from spreading. “
President Trump has often argued with Cuomo over coronavirus restrictions, accusing him of ill-treating the pandemic in the state that suffered the worst losses in the spring. More than 34,000 people have died in New York since the pandemic began, although the curve in the state has remained relatively flat in recent months. There has been a slower increase in Covid-19 cases as the virus has spread further and threatens lives in New York in the Midwest and the Sun Belt.
Alan is a New York based writer, editor, and news junkie.