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Major shift at Supreme Court on Covid-19 orders

Published on November 27, 2020 4:11 AM
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by JOSH GERSTEIN - politico.com

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US SUPREME COURT Covid-19
 
The Supreme Court signaled a major shift in its approach to coronavirus-related restrictions late Wednesday, voting 5-4 to bar New York state from reimposing limits on religious gatherings.

The emergency rulings, issued just before midnight, were the first significant indication of a rightward shift in the court since President Donald Trump's newest appointee — Justice Amy Coney Barrett — last month filled the seat occupied by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

n May and July, the Supreme Court narrowly rejected challenges to virus-related restrictions on churches in California and Nevada, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court's Democratic appointees to stress that state and local governments required flexibility to deal with a dangerous and evolving pandemic.

But support on the high court for those rulings shrank with Ginsburg's death. Wednesday night's orders granting emergency relief to Roman Catholic churches and to Jewish congregations in New York demonstrated, as many suspected, that Barrett would side with the court's most conservative justices in insisting on greater accommodation for religion even as the pandemic is again surging.

"Stemming the spread of COVID–19 is unquestionably a compelling interest, but it is hard to see how the challenged regulations can be regarded as ...