The Supreme Court’s new term has surprised legal experts by the absence of cases involving the Constitution’s religion clauses. There hasn’t been a single case granted related to religion clauses, and there are only a few faith-related cases waiting. This is unusual considering the court has dealt with high-profile religion-based cases recently. Some hope the court will address religious cases to help the country find a path to social peace, while others argue that the court’s involvement exacerbates tensions.
Religion cases, in this context, encompass various issues beyond the First Amendment’s free exercise or establishment clauses, often involving policies enacted long after the Constitution was adopted.
One case involving faith-based concerns is Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, which addresses the power of administrative agencies and its impact on religious organizations. Several other cases, such as Tingley v. Ferguson (conversion therapy), Missouri Department of Corrections v. Finney (jury selection based on faith), Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (abortion pill restrictions), and Vitagliano v. County of Westchester (abortion clinic protective zones), await potential Supreme Court consideration.
While the court hasn’t taken up religious liberty cases yet, three or four cases may be heard by the end of the term. Regardless of the outcome, this term will offer insights into the court’s composition and approach to religion-related issues.
Deseret News reports:
As the Supreme Court returns to the courtroom on Monday, some legal experts are surprised by the new term’s lack of faith.
So far, the justices have not taken up a single case involving the Constitution’s religion clauses, and there are only a few faith-related cases waiting in the wings.
“It’s not only that there’s not any religion clause cases granted. There’s also not too many existing petitions in that area right now,” said Marc DeGirolami, co-director of the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s Law School in Queens, New York.
This situation is notable since the Supreme Court has heard several high-profile religion cases in recent years.
Last term, the justices ruled on whether a religious graphic designer had to design same-sex wedding websites and if a Christian postal worker must deliver packages on his Sabbath. The term before that, the court heard cases involving religious school funding, abortion rights and school prayer.
“It’s unusual for the Roberts Court” not to have religion cases on the docket, “just like it is for any Supreme Court,” DeGirolami said.