Religious freedom is under attack in the United States to the point of becoming secondary to casinos and public protests, a U.S. Supreme Court justice is warning, and that distorted discrimination presents a grave danger for our republic.
In a speech last week to the Federalist Society, Justice Samuel Alito said the coronavirus pandemic served as a “constitutional stress test” on our country.
“And in doing so,” he observed, “it has highlighted disturbing trends that were already present before the virus struck.”
One of those trends, the conservative justice further stated, is restrictions imposed by a governor’s executive order rather than by an assembly of legislators debating the issue.
Nevada, for example, opened up its casinos and entertainment venues to 50% capacity in June but limited church attendance – no matter how large the sanctuary – to a maximum 50 worshippers. That lopsided order from Gov. Steve Sisolak resulted in a lawsuit filed by Calvary Chapel that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where Alito joined Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch in a dissent.
Alito pointed out in his dissent the governor not only treated casinos and bowling alleys differently, he had also defended street protests, too, the NCLS blog reported at the time.
“Take a quick look at the Constitution,” Alito commented last week. “You will see the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment, which protects religious liberty. You will not find a craps clause or a blackjack clause or a slot machine clause.”
In the Calvary Chapel decision, Alito ripped into Gov. Sisolak’s defense of his executive order that relied on South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, a second controversial ruling out of California that also involved church restrictions.
At least in the case of South Bay, Alito wrote, California was also restricting the operation of grocery stores and factories, but Nevada was singling out churches while allowing hundreds of people to roam the casino floor.
Alito: There is no ‘religious bigotry’
Alito also remarked about the pro-LGBT, anti-discrimination lawsuits filed against Christian bakers and florists, whose orthodox religious views are not being tolerated by mayors and governors in the name of tolerance.
OneNewsNow has reported on such legal cases dating back several years and has often reported on who is winning: The courts have repeatedly sided with suing plaintiffs, a city government's non-discrimination ordinance, and a left-wing civil rights commission over Christian business owners.
By bringing up that topic last week at the Federalist speech, Justice Alito set off a firestorm in the national media. NBC News called it a “politically charged speech” against gay marriage, and The New York Times framed it as a “unusually political speech” by a sitting justice.
CNN’s legal analyst suggested Alito’s speech “signals” where the court is headed in the future.
Yet the mainstream media was responding angrily to Alito’s defense of religious liberty after routinely presenting the liberal view: A same-sex couple was planning an unforgettable wedding to celebrate their love and commitment only to be confronted by an intolerant business owner who used his religion to discriminate.
The NBC News story, in fact, ran on the network’s “Out News” website that is blatantly pro-LGBT and hence presents such stories from that viewpoint.
Alito told his audience last week that some Americans view religious views as an “excuse for bigotry” but he sees the legal issue quite differently.
“The question we face,” he said, “is whether our society will be inclusive enough to tolerate people with unpopular religious beliefs.”