The Court has said the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause does not require religious exemptions from neutral, generally applicable laws. But it also has said laws are presumptively unconstitutional when they discriminate against religion.
New York’s restrictions “cannot be viewed as neutral because they single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment,” the majority says. In red zones, businesses deemed “essential”—including supermarkets, convenience stores, hardware stores, pet stores, liquor stores, laundromats, acupuncturists, banks, and various offices—operate without capacity limits. “The disparate treatment is even more striking in an orange zone,” the Court notes. “While attendance at houses of worship is limited to 25 persons, even non-essential businesses may decide for themselves how many persons to admit.”