The U.S. Supreme Court sided Thursday against 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 the Democratic governor’s restrictions on houses of worship, CBS News reported. In light of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, which granted temporary relief from coronavirus restrictions imposed on houses of worship by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, 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.
As we work to slow the latest surge of #COVID19 — small businesses need immediate relief.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) December 1, 2020
Our Emergency Relief Package will provide businesses a bridge while we wait for federal funds and work with the legislature to provide longer term aid. https://t.co/qauPDXrKY8
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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