U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is breaking ranks with her party to praise a Supreme Court ruling the strengthens the concept of religious liberty.
She recently announced that she “strongly supports” the decision rebuking Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his strict limits on gatherings at the state’s houses of worship.
“Respect the judgment of those with special expertise”
The Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday granted a temporary injunction against some of Cuomo’s policies, with a majority of justices agreeing that the restrictions amounted to discrimination against churches and “especially harsh” limitations not applied to secular businesses.
Breaking with many of her fellow Democrats, Gabbard tweeted this week that she favored the high court’s determination.
“I strongly support this Supreme Court ruling defending our First Amendment/freedom of religion,” she wrote. “While COVID may temporarily require certain public health restrictions, houses of worship MUST be treated same as secular institutions — not more harshly/strictly.”
Echoing the court’s majority, Gabbard went on to assert that the Constitution must not be ignored — even during a crisis.
“Members of this Court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area,” the majority opinion stated. “But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
“Effectively barring many from attending”
As the ruling determined, the “restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
Known for an anti-establishment view on certain foreign policy issues and an overall independent streak, Gabbard has become a target for some among the Democratic Party elite.
Last year, she was engaged in a notable feud with 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who accused the lawmaker of being a Russian asset.
The Supreme Court was not unanimous in its decision, though, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor chastised the majority in a dissenting opinion.
She wrote: “Justices of this Court play a deadly game in second guessing the expert judgment of health officials about the environments in which a contagious virus, now infecting a million Americans each week, spreads most easily.”