The Supreme Court sided with a California ministry against Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday in a dispute over the coronavirus restrictions.
The Harvest Rock International Department had alleged that Newsom’s restrictions on the church’s capacity were “drastic and unacceptable,” challenging those restrictions in a lawsuit. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in court documents that “the temporary interference is justified by the state’s interest in limiting the transmission of COVID-19 through appropriate, evidence-based policies.
In an unsigned order on Thursday, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, instructing appeals court justices to consider the case in light of a ruling on religious worship in New York announced on Thanksgiving Day. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on November 25 that some of New York’s restrictions on indoor worship were unconstitutional.
“Even in the event of a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be set aside and forgotten,” wrote the majority of the Court in its opinion on the case of New York. “The restrictions at issue here, by effectively preventing many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom.
However, the court did not entirely rule out restrictions on worship. Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in his opinion on the case that he “did not doubt the power of the state to impose tailor-made restrictions – even very strict restrictions – on participation in religious services and secular gatherings. “.
The court’s most recent religious freedom rulings come after Republicans in the Senate confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the bench.