Free Exercise’s Lingering Ambiguity

It has become common, for example, for churches to demand that their ability to gather for worship not be considered less essential than the operation of liquor stores in those states that have designated the latter as “essential” businesses. In other words, these churches argue that the First Amendment does not permit states to prioritize pinot noir over prayer. Judges hearing these challenges have had to grapple with an old question imbued with new pandemic-related nuance: What constitutes discrimination against religion under the Free Exercise Clause? […]