President Trump deserves thanks for appointing three conservative Supreme Court justices , each of whom ruled this week in favor of religious groups and against New York government officials seeking to curb congregation sizes at religious services, a key supporter of the president wrote on Thanksgiving Day.
The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham and himself a spiritual adviser to several U.S. presidents as head of Billy Graham Ministries, wrote on Twitter that he was “thankful for President @realDonald Trump’s appointment of 3 conservative #SCOTUS justices who ruled last night in favor of churches & against gov’t overreach in the state of New York.”
In another tweet, the 68-year-old Graham posted a quote from Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch’s decision in the 5-4 case, in which Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s liberals.
“It is time … to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores & bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, & mosques,” Graham quoted from Gorsuch’s writing.
On Wednesday night, the high court blocked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo from reimposing strict attendance caps at worship services in areas hit hard by the novel coronavirus.
The court ruled 5-4 to bar Cuomo from enforcing his Oct. 6 “Cluster Initiative” against houses of worship that sued to challenge the restrictions.
The order was also the first in which Justice Amy Coney Barrett played a decisive role. Barrett, who was President Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee, joined the court Oct. 27, after winning Senate confirmation following the Sept. 18 death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In addition to Gorsuch and Barrett, Trump also appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas — conservatives who were appointed before Trump took office — also sided with the majority opinion.
In the dissenting opinion, Roberts and the three liberals — Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer — asserted that the court had acted rashly.
The order was aimed at worship services at some synagogues and Roman Catholic churches in parts of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, Bloomberg News reported.
In the hardest-hit areas of the city, which were designated red zones, the state limited attendance in houses of worship to 25% of their capacity or 10 people, whichever is fewer. The majority said Cuomo’s limits violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion.
The ruling was seen as a reversal from earlier actions taken during the pandemic this year by the high court in response to state restrictions on organized religion, reports said. The justices previously refused to lift restrictions on churches in California and Nevada.