The US Supreme Court has sided with a California church which argued that coronavirus restrictions infringe religious liberty. The ruling is the second such order to favor religious groups over Democratic governors.
With church services forbidden by California Governor Gavin Newsom under his Covid restrictions, the Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena claimed before the Supreme Court that the “draconian and unconscionable prohibitions” on worship were unfair.
FILE PHOTO: Business owners rally against coronavirus restrictions in San Diego, California, November 16, 2020 © Reuters / Mike Blake
“Indoor worship services are completely prohibited for 99.1 percent of Californians,” the group argued, while “food packing and processing, laundromats, and warehouses have no capacity limits, liquor and grocery stores have a 50 percent capacity, and big box centers, shopping malls, laundromats, and destination centers have a 25-percent capacity.”
Furthermore, the church accused Newsom himself of violating California’s lockdown rules “at his own whim,” after photos were published of the governor dining at a restaurant with a group of lobbyists and health officials.
The Supreme Court sided with the church on Thursday, sending the case back down to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, and asking that court’s judges to reconsider the case in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week which blocked New York’s restrictions on religious gatherings.
In that ruling, the highest US court ruled that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lockdown measures – which limited church and synagogue congregations to 10 people in certain “red zones” – “strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
“Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,” the ruling added.
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