Does the Supreme Court favor Christians in religious liberty cases? | The Tylt

Does the Supreme Court favor Christians in religious liberty cases?

The Supreme Court has recently decided on a series of highly contentious religious liberty cases. The cases span the ideological spectrum, from upholding President Trump's Muslim ban despite cries from activists that his purpose was clearly discriminatory, to staying the execution of a Texas man who said he was being prevented from having a Buddhist minister with him at the time of his death. The rulings are frequently at odds with one another, leaving some watchers of the court to wonder whether Christians are being favored. What do you think?

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Does the Supreme Court favor Christians in religious liberty cases?
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The court recently stayed the execution of a Buddhist inmate in Texas who claimed his religious liberties were being infringed by the state. Patrick Murphy said prison officials were denying his requests to have his spiritual advisor at his side during his execution. Per the Washington Post:

“The relevant Texas policy allows a Christian or Muslim inmate to have a state-employed Christian or Muslim religious adviser present either in the execution room or in the adjacent viewing room,” Kavanaugh wrote. “But inmates of other religious denominations — for example, Buddhist inmates such as Murphy — who want their religious adviser to be present can have the religious adviser present only in the viewing room and not in the execution room itself for their executions.
“In my view, the Constitution prohibits such denominational discrimination.”
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The LA Times reports the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty celebrated the decision, calling it a win for all religious denominations.

“Religious liberty won today. The Supreme Court made it clear that the 1st Amendment applies to every American, no matter their faith,” said Eric Rassbach, a senior counsel at Becket. “As we said in our brief to the court, you can’t give fewer rights to Buddhists than you give to Christians or Muslims. In his last moments, a condemned man can receive both comfort from a minister of his own faith, and equal treatment under the law.”
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However the ruling in the Texas case directly contradicted that of Domineque Hakim Marcelle Ray mere weeks ago. Ray, a Muslim man on death-row in Alabama, brought his case to the Supreme Court after the state declined his request to have his imam in the room with him during his execution. The state claimed Ray had not filed his request, nor his complaint, within a timely manner. Additionally, they said the imam posed a potential security threat and could not be allowed in the room. The prison had a Christian minister on staff, however, and would allow him to be in the room during executions. 

The New York Times reports the court ruled against Ray, saying the state's security concerns were valid and should be respected. 

Writing for the dissenters, Justice Elena Kagan called the majority’s decision “profoundly wrong.”
“Under that policy, a Christian prisoner may have a minister of his own faith accompany him into the execution chamber to say his last rites,” Justice Kagan wrote. “But if an inmate practices a different religion — whether Islam, Judaism, or any other — he may not die with a minister of his own faith by his side. That treatment goes against the Establishment Clause’s core principle of denominational neutrality.”
...And thus, the Supreme Court compounded the moral failure of its travel ban ruling. In each case, Muslims were diminished. “He wanted equal treatment in his last moments,” said Spencer Hahn, one of Mr. Ray’s lawyers, after Mr. Ray’s execution at 10:12 p.m. on Thursday. “We are better than this.”
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The ACLU reports the recent ruling in the Alabama case continues the court's trend of favoring somewhat specious security claims over concerns about protecting the liberties of minority religious groups. The group draws a direct line between the Alabama case and the court's decision to uphold the president's Muslim ban in 2018. 

In Trump v. Hawaii, a deeply divided court upheld the president’s ban, which imposed strict, indefinite entry restrictions on individuals from certain Muslim-majority countries. Unlike in Masterpiece, the evidence of anti-religious hostility underlying the Muslim ban was massive, consistent, and unambiguous. Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump regularly vilified Islam and called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in a statement that remained on his campaign website well into his presidency. Only one week into his presidency, Trump made good on that deplorable promise, issuing an executive order that targeted Muslim-majority countries and included thinly veiled attacks on Muslim communities here and abroad. Later iterations of the ban followed the same basic blueprint, and the president continued to malign Islam throughout the process.
But none of that mattered to the Supreme Court majority in Trump v. Hawaii. In upholding the final version of the ban, the court essentially ignored the overwhelming evidence of blatant anti-Muslim animus underlying the policy, crediting superficial changes the president made in response to earlier court rulings. In the end, the court gave Trump a free pass to discriminate against an entire faith. 
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Many of the nation's Muslims have become concerned about the court's treatment of those who practice the religion. Per the Atlantic

Whatever the legal merits of these individual decisions, the lasting impression they create for Americans is undeniable: Islam is a faith tradition that is not only inferior to Christianity but also inherently hostile to America. We practicing Muslims are treated as security threats by virtue of our existence and are left to conclude that we are not co-equal citizens of this country—even though we’ve been here since the beginning, when enslaved people were brought to this country. We are told to have faith in our legal institutions and promote the narrative of America as the land of the free, but decisions like this make me question whether Muslims, and other religious minorities, can look to the courts for equal and fair treatment.
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However, religious liberty cases often contain nuances and subtleties that go far beyond merely protecting a group's ability to freely practice their religion. The court recently heard arguments on a case from Maryland, where the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, a taxpayer-funded group, has been paying for the upkeep of a large cross. The cross was erected shortly after World War I as a memorial. Those arguing in favor of maintaining the monument say it transcends merely being a Christian monument, and can be seen as a secular memorial to those who died during the war.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which inherited the monument, says the court need not break new legal ground to allow the Bladensburg landmark to remain.
The commission’s lawyer in the case, Neal K. Katyal, said the monument “is no ordinary cross.” At its heart is the symbol of the American Legion, at its base four words: Valor, Endurance, Courage, Devotion. Nearby are other memorials to veterans.
“Not a single word of religious content appears anywhere,” he said.
He added: “The easiest way to resolve this case is to say, in the wake of World War I, crosses like this one have an independent secular meaning.”
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Does the Supreme Court favor Christians in religious liberty cases?
A festive crown for the winner
#CourtFavorsChrist
#CourtProtectsAll