Amicus Brief

Gish v. Newsom (U.S. Supreme Court, 2021)

At issue in this case is clergy and congregants from several churches invoking the Free Exercise Clause to seek a full exemption from California coronavirus public-health orders that restrict indoor religious gatherings to the same extent or more favorably than similarly situated secular gatherings. In opposing this claim, the legal brief joined by ADL explains that the history of the Free Exercise Clause demonstrates it was never intended to require religious exemptions from laws that protect public health or safety. Rather, it was enacted to address a long history of governmental efforts to suppress particular religious groups based on disapproval of them. Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s longstanding interpretation of the Clause has aligned with that original intent, recognizing religious exercise is worthy of respect and accommodation, but not to the extent of jeopardizing the health and safety of others.