The Supreme Court’s recent decision to enjoin the governor of New York from enforcing strict numerical limits on church gatherings has triggered strong reactions from liberal commentators who see it as a signal of the court’s shift to the right. The immediate impact of the decision was limited: The governor had lifted the challenged restrictions just days before the decision was announced. So reasonable arguments could be made that the injunction should have been denied because it was unnecessary (Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s point) or granted because it was harmless (Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s point). But there is no question that the injunction reflects a shift in the court’s thinking about the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion.
What is most notable about this shift is that it is seen as a move to the right rather than to the left.