During a meeting of the Federalist Society late on Thursday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to “previously unimaginable” curbs on individual liberty, namely through signaling out restrictions on religious events. “We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020,” Alito stated.

Although more than 11 million Americans have been infected with the virus and the death toll is quickly approaching 250,000, Alito told Federalist Society members that he was not trying to downplay the severity of the pandemic. Rather, he was intending to shed light on how strict restrictions have affected religious life. “Think of worship services! Churches closed on Easter Sunday, synagogues closed for Passover in Yom Kippur,” he said. Alito turned to Nevada and California, states that restricted in person worship services over the summer, condemning these practices to have “blatantly discriminated against houses of worship.”

“It pains me to say this,” Alito said, “but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right,” The justice’s comments about the pandemic curtailing individual liberty come just as Justice Amy Coney Barrett completed her first sitting on the court. Barrett has written extensively on faith and law and sits with Alito on the right.

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