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News/Opinion

Supreme Court Sides Against Newsom On California Church Restrictions

By Mary Margaret Olohan

supreme court newsom church

The United States Supreme Court sided Thursday against Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s restrictions on worship services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Justices tossed out an order from a Central District of California court that had upheld Newsom’s restrictions on houses of worship, CBS News reported Thursday. In light of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, which granted temporary relief from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship, the justices sent the dispute back to a lower court for further review.

The conservative justices, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, favored religious organizations in the Thanksgiving 5-4 ruling, while Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices. It was the first time Barrett was a deciding factor as the court’s newest justice after replacing the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

 

The majority said that Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions on religious communities are “far more restrictive than any Covid-related regulations that have previously come before the Court, much tighter than those adopted by many other jurisdictions hard hit by the pandemic, and far more severe than has been shown to be required to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministries brought the California case to the Supreme Court, arguing that Newsom’s restrictions on houses of worship violated the First Amendment, CBS reported. Lawyers for Harvest Rock Church argued that Newsom allowed nonreligious businesses or entities to open or gather with few restrictions while restricting houses of worship more severely, according to the publication.

“For the governor, COVID-19 restrictions are apparently optional and penalty-free,” the lawyers argued. “But for Churches or anyone worshipping in their own home with someone who does not live there, COVID-19 restrictions are mandatory and enforced via criminal penalties.”

Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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