Landmark Wins for Religious Freedom at the Supreme Court
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Supreme Court:
“Yesterday, I discussed the Supreme Court’s historic, courageous, and correct decision in Dobbs. But that landmark case was only part of the most consequential Supreme Court term in almost 70 years, since Brown overturned Plessy in 1954.
“For example, in the space of one week, the Court took two huge leaps forward for religious liberty. Two big steps to restore and strengthen Americans’ First Amendment right to pray and worship how they choose and raise their kids accordingly.
“Time and again, we’ve seen opponents of religious diversity argue that government ought to discriminate against faith-based undertakings and organizations.
“These efforts have spanned from the anti-Catholic ‘Blaine amendments’ of the 1800s to today’s efforts by the secular left to chase religion out of the public square.
“We’ve had Democratic politicians try to force nuns to pay for birth control against their will.
“49 of 50 Senate Democrats just voted for a radical bill that could have forced faith-based hospitals to perform abortions, against their principles.
“Last year, Washington Democrats tried to pass a sweeping ‘Toddler Takeover’ that was written to squeeze out faith-based childcare providers and secularize early childhood in this country.
“For goodness sakes, five years ago, a Lutheran preschool in Missouri had to argue all the way to the Supreme Court that it deserved equal access to widely-available funding for updating an outdoor playground. Textbook anti-religious discrimination. Fortunately they won easily, 7 to 2.
“Last month, the Court took another landmark step. The case Carson v. Makin arose because the state of Maine had established a school voucher program that tried to uniquely discriminate against faith-based schools.
“In effect, the government was using taxpayer money to nudge families away from faith-based education and toward secular private schools instead.
“The Court rightly struck down that law. Chief Justice Roberts explained that Maine could not exclude accredited and otherwise eligible schools purely because they are religious. That’s not government’s choice to make. It’s up to parents.
“A few days later, the Court issued another important and commonsense ruling.
“Joseph Kennedy, a high school football coach from Washington state, was fired simply because he quickly and quietly offered a simple prayer on the field after games.
“Let me say that again. A man was fired by government bureaucrats for praying. This is America we’re talking about.
“The Court ruled for Coach Kennedy under both the Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment.
“In the process, Justice Gorsuch and his colleagues cleared away many years of phony, made-up legal tests that made our laws needlessly hostile to religion and turned back to what the Constitution actually says.
“So the Court’s term was an exciting one for Americans of faith who simply want to be allowed to live out their faiths and raise their kids.
“But this was a win for the entire country.
“Americans of any faith and no faith at all can celebrate that we have a brilliant majority of originalist, textualist Justices who will defend all of our constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms and apply what the Bill of Rights actually says.
“In a better world, Mr. President, neither of these commonsense rulings would have been close calls or breaking news. But since they were, they were very good news indeed.”