The US Supreme Court docket favors faith in emergency critiques
(RNS) – The Supreme Court approved 10 emergency reviews by religious groups questioning COVID-19 restrictions last year and granted all 10 positive, an analysis found.
Analysis by Reuters, reported on Wednesday (July 28), found that the court’s “shadow file” – which resolves urgent motions without oral arguments or lengthy written decisions – gave religious claimants a victory in every case.
In all 10 emergency decisions on COVID-19 restrictions, religious groups sought and received relief from state or local public health measures.
The analysis also found that former President Trump got his way through 10 emergency reviews. In eight of these cases, the administration attempted to execute 13 death row inmates, and the court consented, often overturning judgments by lower courts that suspended executions at the federal level. Under Trump, the death penalty was resumed at the federal level for the first time since 2003.
Shadow files do not reveal how the judges voted. The Supreme Court consists of six Conservative and three Liberal judges.
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In total, the court recorded 150 emergency reviews; 42 concerned disputes over the legality of public health measures related to COVID-19. This included two 911 calls from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two Orthodox Jewish communities challenging the mass restrictions imposed by New York State. Both were granted on the eve of Thanksgiving last year.
In order to access the shadow file, each party involved in the process can turn to a single judge who will decide whether the case will be referred to the entire court. Five of the nine judges must approve an application. In the past year, 73 emergency applications were referred to the general court.
Private petitioners who were not religious bodies, the Reuters report showed – including immigrants who fought deportation and 33 people who applied without the help of lawyers – were denied.