A Wake-Up Call: Fascist Supreme Court Assaults Science-Based COVID Restrictions in Ominous Ruling

In a perverse “preview of coming attractions,” SCOTUS Strikes Down New York State Restrictions on Indoor Religious Services

| revcom.us


Editors’ Note: This edited submission from a member of the National Revolution Tour is part of developing a new cohort of writers for revcom.us, of which we need much more.

Late Wednesday night, November 25, the Supreme Court signaled a troubling shift. In a 5-4 decision, with the fascists in the majority, and Chief Justice Roberts dissenting along with the liberal minority (although on narrow procedural grounds), the court struck down restrictions put in place by New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo on the size of religious services in areas particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

In October, Governor Cuomo ordered that religious services within certain zones in New York City be limited to a very small number: 10 in some instances, and 25 in others. Epidemiologists and other experts have pointed towards the high-risk nature of indoor religious services which include chanting, singing, and other activities which can spread the virus, airborne in its spread. The restrictions in contention are temporary, and only affect small sections within the state that at any given time has a very high incidence of cases of COVID-19. Both Orthodox Jewish and Roman Catholic congregations challenged the orders, and eventually these challenges came before the Supreme Court.

The Christian fascist Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, in their respective concurring opinions, invoked the severe language of “discrimination” to describe (or more accurately, distort) the situation in New York. They insist that because there are attendance caps built into the restriction on religious buildings, and no such caps apply to (what they describe as) similar, secular buildings, those religious institutions are therefore unjustly singled out.

“So, at least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians. Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?” Gorsuch argued.

The reality is far from this. As Justice Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion makes clear, this comparison is unwarranted, and the order in contention was based not in discriminatory attitudes towards religious institutions, but on the science of viruses and epidemiology (science of how viruses and diseases spread and what has to be done) of a pandemic that is ravaging through U.S. society right now, and the need for the government to impose restrictions that benefit the larger society and the health of the population at large.

From Sotomayor: “Unlike religious services... bike repair shops and liquor stores generally do not feature customers gathering inside to sing and speak together for an hour or more at a time... Justices of this Court play a deadly game in second guessing the expert judgment of health officials about the environments in which a contagious virus, now infecting a million Americans each week, spreads most easily.”

On Rights and Religious Freedom

Even within the framework of U.S. bourgeois constitutional law, religious rights, like all rights, are not absolute. The well-known example of this is that one does not have the right to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater if there is no fire. Along with necessary and legal restrictions, rights often come into conflict with one another, and which right must cede ground in one form or another needs to be negotiated. This is a great deal of what any legal system needs to handle. In this case, the freedom of these churches and synagogues to hold religious services in the numbers and forms that they wish is actually in conflict with the greater need for society to get the pandemic under control. Most societies would have difficulty, and should have debate determining which of these rights to prioritize. But to put it another way, “freedom of religion” does not give you the right to impose your religion on other people, or to impose an extreme harm on society as a whole: such as spreading a deadly disease.

This is to say nothing of the howling hypocrisy of the Christian fascists, who whine and moan about “constitutional violations” when they feel it can advance their “victim” narrative, and contribute to their drive for power, while themselves seeking to violate and vitiate the rights and liberties of women, LGBTQ people, and all those who do not bend to the will of their aspiring theocratic dictatorship. Let’s not forget that these are the people who insist that their “legal career is but a means to an end ... that end is building the kingdom of God.”1

Amy Coney Barrett joined fellow fascists Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh in the majority, in the first major sign of the impact that she—Barrett—will have in her new role. As revcom.us has previously exposed, Amy Coney Barrett is illegitimate. Not only was she installed on the Court as a key part of moves by the Trump/Pence regime in their moves to steal the 2020 Presidential election should it be close and possible, but more critically, “Barrett’s appointment will seal into place a Christian fascist majority on the Supreme Court for decades to come, with an increasingly disproportionate role in setting terms and policies for the country as a whole.”2

When compared to the Supreme Court rulings in the spring, which upheld certain restrictions during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, this decision signals a new course: that THIS Court is one that is guided by, and will sacrifice the safety and lives of masses of people for, a Christian fascist agenda and social order. This ruling was nothing less than the opening salvo of what is likely to be a protracted assault by this new Court on science, civil liberties of oppressed peoples, and every social gain made since the 1960s, in particular women’s rights to abortion and birth control, among others. Yes, all this can and will very likely happen under a Biden presidency, given the tendencies and basic nature of the Democratic Party, and especially if mass struggle is not waged against it.

These Fascists Have No Right to Rule, and the System that Birthed Them Must Be Overthrown

The fact that a political force of this type—seeking to impose a dark ages morality, oppressive and reactionary social and political system based on a literalist interpretation of scripture—is not only a major factor in the politics of a high-tech imperialist country, but controls key levers of power and government, strongly influencing the direction and momentum of its trajectory, should raise serious questions about the nature of the system we are forced to live under, and be a wake-up call for all who care about truth and science.

What kind of a system has among the members of its most authoritative legal body, making literally life and death decisions concerning the public health of the masses among other key issues, those who not only dismiss but denigrate the very role and function of “experts”!

Alito also speaks out against what he calls “the vision of early 20th century progressives and the New Dealers of the 1930s” of imposing “the rule of experts.” What he means by this is the idea that government policies should be based on a scientific understanding of reality and not on popular prejudice. (See: Supreme Court Justice Alito’s Christian-Fascist Speech to the Federalist Society)

I am—frankly—stunned, and others should be too, questioning the very nature of this system! Views such as Alito’s reflect much more than crass philistinism. They are a coherent and potent ideological cocktail of ignorance about the world and fanatical “certitude” in service of what they believe “God” demands of them. Just what kind of society and world does this logic lead to? And just how many corpses line the road to this world?

There’s a tremendous need to call all of this out—the illegitimacy of a fascist Supreme Court, the danger of the millions-strong Christian fascist movement and its political operatives, and the ridiculous, outmoded system which gives these forces the room to operate and conspire to force their poison on the rest of us. The concrete moves they make to institute their vision need to be stopped cold, by uniting all who can be united to stop a fascist America—as part of bringing forth a radically different and far better world by getting rid of this system that birthed and nurtured this Christian fascism. A system of capitalism-imperialism, a system that cannot be reformed, that must be overthrown!


1. See revcom.us article “Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court? A “Home Run” for Fascism and Oppression; an Imminent Threat to Abortion and All Reproductive Rights.”  [back]

2. Ibid.  [back]

Handmaids protest Amy Coney Barrett in front of Supreme Court. (Photo: AP)

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