Season 2, Ep. 05: This Emotional Court

Amanda and Holly on the latest actions from a surprisingly emotional Supreme Court, including a speech from Justice Alito and the decision that overturned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s limits on worship in coronavirus hotspots

Dec 3, 2020

This summer, the coronavirus pandemic raised novel new questions about religious freedom and government powers. Now, as we head toward winter, what have we learned? Amanda and Holly talk about the latest actions from this surprisingly emotional Supreme Court. Starting with Justice Samuel Alito’s November speech to the Federalist Society (starting at 08:12), they then break down the Thanksgiving eve decision that overturned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s limits on worship in coronavirus hotspots (20:03) and talk about what it might mean for restrictions in other places. Learn more about what’s at stake for religious freedom in these court cases and the importance of comparing apples to apples.


Segment one: What’s happened in challenges to  government restrictions on in-person worship services so far? (starting at 00:47)

Amanda and Holly talked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on religion and religious freedom in four episodes of season one of Respecting Religion:

Episode 6: Stay-at-home orders, religious freedom, and RFRA

Episode 8: Religious freedom in the age of coronavirus

Episode 10: Lawsuits challenging COVID-19 directives

Episode 14: Finding the right response to reopening

Holly mentioned two cases from earlier this year: South Bay United Pentecostal v. Newsom (California) from May and Calvary Chapel v. Sisolak (Nevada) from July.

Read more about the Thanksgiving eve decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Andrew M. Cuomo (New York) on BJC’s website at this link.  

Amanda and Holly talked about the speech Justice Samuel Alito gave to the Federalist Society during the 2020 National Lawyers Convention on November 12. You can watch the entire speech at this link. The clip we played is from 35:05-35:41.


Segment two: Supreme Court sniping in the New York decision (20:03)

For a humorous take on comparing like things to like things, check out this editorial from Brian Kaylor, the editor of Word & Way: Treating Costco like my church.

The really important free exercise case at the Supreme Court this year is Fulton v. Philadelphia. Learn more at


Segment three: Individual liberty and the common good (40:32)

Holly mentioned this Religion News Service (RNS) story by Jack Jenkins: Biden says Americans can worship in person ‘safely.’ But what does that mean?

Amanda mentioned this op-ed by Pope Francis that came out on Thanksgiving Day in The New York Times: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts