Aug 12, 2021
Has the Supreme Court sold out to religion? You could be excused for thinking so if all you had to go on was the hue and cry protesting things the court did last term. And now that furor on the left is growing even more intense in anticipation of a new term with abortion and aid to religious schools on the agenda.
Yet the court’s religion-friendly actions simply reflect the fact that, unlike claims advanced on behalf of some causes embraced by the left, religious free exercise is enshrined in the Constitution’s First Amendment itself along with other basic rights like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
The Supreme Court’s most notable religious liberty decision last term was its unanimous June 17 holding in Fulton v. Philadelphia that the city erred in forcing the local Catholic social services agency out of foster care for refusing to place children with same-sex couples.
But by no means was that the only case in which the justices came down on religion’s side. Several times they reversed pandemic-related government restrictions on religious services tougher than those imposed on commercial enterprises. And at term’s end they overturned a lower court decision upholding efforts to force Amish farmers in Minnesota to use modern technology--contrary to their religious convictions--to dispose of wastewater.