• Richard Easson

Supreme Court Sides with California

Late Friday, the Supreme Court handed a win over to the State of California after a San Diego church made an effort to receive relief from Governor Gavin Newsom's recent restrictions on capacities at houses of worship. The new directives restrict churches from having more than 25 percent of their normal capacity with no more than 100 people at any given time. The Court was largely divided on the issue, split down political lines, except for Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the four liberal justices in the 5-4 decision.

The Chief Justice, appointed by George W. Bush, is known to be a rather conservative judge. Many believe he is becoming more of a swing voter much like his former colleague and Reagan appointee, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who famously wrote the 2015 landmark majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges ultimately legalizing gay marriage throughout the US, among other rather liberal decisions.

Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and John Roberts arrive at the House chamber to hear the State of the Union address given by President Donald Trump on February 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

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Many point to Roberts' siding with his liberal counterparts in rather recent cases such as December 2019's case upholding a lower court's order to block the Trump administration's implementation of an asylum order or last week's 5-4 decision siding with an Alabama death row inmate on the premise that he cannot recall his crimes after suffering from multiple strokes and sending it back to lower courts.

What many tend to forget is that Roberts has also sided with the conservative majority during this term. In January, he allowed the Trump administration's ban on transgenders in the military to continue.

The point here is although the Supreme Court has a majority of conservatives on the bench, we can't expect votes along party lines every time, as we've clearly seen. Some legal experts and scholars believe Roberts is trying to make the institution less partisan and keep its integrity as fair and just for all. Maybe if a big case against abortion comes to the Court, conservatives will have more luck, but why not in defense of the freedom of religion, especially after this case with California?

Do you recall what happened to Kentucky churchgoers on Easter Sunday this year? Do you remember that at each entrance of Marysville Baptist Church were boxes of nails? Do you remember that congregants were issued citations for "defying" Democratic Governor Andy Beshear's tyrannical orders? All they wanted to do was listen to an Easter Sunday service in their cars in the parking lot of the church. A couple of people even drove 12 hours from New Jersey to be a part of the sermon.

When you have Democratic governors like Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Andy Beshear of Kentucky, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, or Gavin Newsom of California, just to name a few, telling you how, where and when you can and cannot worship, it's tyranny. It's an overreach of powers. It's egotistical. It's saying, hey, I can do this and there's nothing you can do about it. They have no problem allowing liquor stores or Target stores to remain open, as long as you wear a mask. They're even handing masks out to rioters like the Democratic Minneapolis mayor did just a couple of days ago. But that's perfectly fine, right? Let's see how many come out of the Minneapolis riots with COVID-19 and maybe we can end this pandemic if there's no explosion in cases.

God forbid people go to church with masks on and keep their distance from one another. I think we can agree on trusting them more to do just that than shoppers at your local Stop & Shop (who tend to ignore the one-way aisle signs anyways).

The Supreme Court should be protecting our freedom to assemble (without rioting and looting) and religious expression, not handing it over to governors with big egos who will grow even bigger heads than they already have and restrict more freedoms wherever they can.