The majority concluded that the restrictions are not “neutral” or of “general applicability.” This finding is key in the court’s religious-liberty jurisprudence. Restrictions that apply to everyone and do not target religion but incidentally affect religious observance (e.g., a general ban on peyote use that happens to burden the rites of some religious groups) are presumptively valid. By contrast, restrictions that single out religion — i.e., that are not neutral or generally applicable — are subject to the “strict scrutiny” analysis that the court applies to burdens on fundamental freedoms. That means the state, to justify its restrictions, must show that they are narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest.
Here, there is no gainsaying that the state has a compelling interest in stemming the spread of a potentially deadly infectious disease. Yet, the court observed that “it is hard to see how the challenged regulations can be regarded as narrowly tailored.”
For Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty https://t.co/ldquzsllip
— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) November 29, 2020