The Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote on Friday blocked another state Covid-19 restriction on religious services, with another late-night order, over protests from California officials that the limits affecting some Bible study sessions did not impinge on religious rights and were to be lifted within days.
The unsigned order for the high court majority also revealed the deep ideological fissure, with conservatives (including the three appointees of former President Donald Trump) in control and liberals dissenting bitterly.
Chief Justice John Roberts also dissented, although he did not sign the statement by the three justices on the left, written by Justice Elena Kagan.
“In ordering California to weaken its restrictions on at-home gatherings, the majority yet again insists on treating unlike cases, not like ones, equivalently,” Kagan wrote, adding that “the law does not require that the State equally treat apples and watermelons.”
“And (the majority) once more commands California to ignore its experts’ scientific findings, thus impairing the State’s effort to address a public health emergency.”
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, religious adherents have implored the justices to prevent certain state health restrictions affecting religious services and they have notably prevailed since October’s addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, succeeding the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Friday’s order, issued just before midnight, arose from…