Sunday, 11 April 2021

Covidiot News - SCOTUS Backs Christian Super-Spreader Events

Supreme Court, Washington DC
Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
By 5-4 Vote, Supreme Court Lifts Restrictions on Prayer Meetings in Homes - The New York Times

Donald Trump's right-wing fundamentalist appointees on SCOTUS are paying dividends for the Christian Trumpanzees in California.

Early in the coronavirus pandemic the Supreme Court normally ruled in favour of states imposing restrictions on gatherings in places of worship, citing the health and welfare of the public over the desire of religious people to gather together in a single place and so spread the virus. Now, following the replacement of the late Ruth Bader-Ginsberg with the Trump-appointed right-wing fundamentalist, Amy Coney Barrett, a move widely seen as a thank you for the support he received from the Talibangelicals, SCOTUS is leaning more towards prohibiting states from banning or imposing limits on these gatherings, citing religious freedom over the health and welfare of the public at large.

Last Friday, the court split 5-4 on the issue, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr joining with the three liberal justices in dissenting.

Pandering to the Christian need for martyrdom and victimhood the conservatives said that California treated at-home worship differently to hardware stores, hair dressing salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts and indoor restaurants. None of those were required to limit access to no more than three families.

However, in their dissent, Justices, Elena Kagan, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, said the majority had compared in-home prayer meetings with the wrong kinds of activities - a comparison not justified or required by the law. In other words, they had been highly selective to justify their bias:

Justice Kagan wrote:

The First Amendment requires that a State treat religious conduct as well as the State treats comparable secular conduct. Sometimes finding the right secular analogue may raise hard questions. But not today. California limits religious gatherings in homes to three households. If the State also limits all secular gatherings in homes to three households, it has complied with the First Amendment. And the State does exactly that: It has adopted a blanket restriction on at-home gatherings of all kinds, religious and secular alike. California need not, as the per curiam insists, treat at-home religious gatherings the same as hardware stores and hair salons—and thus unlike at-home secular gatherings, the obvious comparator here. As the per curiam’s reliance on separate opinions and unreasoned orders signals, the law does not require that the State equally treat apples and watermelons.
In other words, the blanket ban on in-home gatherings swept up in-home gatherings for religious services not because they were religious services but because they were in-home gatherings.

Justice Kagan further explained:
And even supposing a court should cast so expansive a comparative net, the per curiam’s analysis of this case defies the factual record. According to the per curiam, “the Ninth Circuit did not conclude that” activities like frequenting stores or salons “pose a lesser risk of transmission” than applicants’ at-home religious activities. Ante, at 3. But Judges Milan Smith and Bade explained for the court that those activities do pose lesser risks for at least three reasons:
  • First, “when people gather in social settings, their interactions are likely to be longer than they would be in a commercial setting,” with participants “more likely to be involved in prolonged conversations.”
  • Second, “private houses are typically smaller and less ventilated than commercial establishments.”
  • And third, “social distancing and mask-wearing are less likely in private settings and enforcement is more difficult.”
These are not the mere musings of two appellate judges: The district court found each of these facts based on the uncontested testimony of California’s public-health experts.
In other words, even if California had treated at-home worship differently to commercial premises, there was good reason to do so in terms of expert assessment of the differential public health risks.

In granting religions special privileges to the rest of society and in ignoring the threat to the health and welfare of the general public that their selfishness poses, Trump's compliant SCOTUS is posing a threat to American democracy and moving it closer to a de facto theocracy where a religion can apply to the Supreme Court to have its self-awarded privileges enshrined in American Law - which is exactly what Trump and his Talibangelical supporters wanted. Meanwhile these religions are spearheading the campaign against the anti-coronavirus measures and against the vaccinations that will reduce the virus' severity, citing all manner of ludicrous conspiracy theories and dubious interpretations of obscure Bible texts to justify it.

It's almost as though they believe science is interfering with their god's plan to kill as many people as possible with one of its nastier designs and it requires their help in doing so. If only the virus restricted itself to fundamentalists, it would be tempting to let them carry on and allow Darwinian evolution to improve the human species by natural selection.


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