The Supreme Court handed down another win for the First Amendment by ordering that California may not arbitrarily prohibit churches from holding indoor services while other similarly situated institutions remain open.
The United States Supreme Court granted emergency relief to five churches challenging Santa Clara County’s public health orders which ban indoor church services. Up until this ruling, the San Francisco Bay Area county was the only place in the nation which set places of worship at a 0% capacity for such services.
Last week the churches first sought an emergency stay in the Ninth Circuit, but that request was denied by the three-judge panel hearing motions. Lawyers for the churches filed an application for an emergency writ of injunction with Justice Elena Kagan who is assigned to the West Coast for emergency motions. Justice Kagan ordered the County to file a response and then referred the matter to the entire Court which sat in conference today.
In a 6-3 decision, the high court granted the relief. The Supreme Court handed down another win for the First Amendment by ordering that California may not arbitrarily prohibit churches from holding indoor services while other similarly situated institutions remain open.
“We are pleased that churches in this county will be unlocked this Sunday after being closed for indoor services for the better part of a year,” said PJI president, Brad Dacus.
The churches are Gateway City Church, The Home Church, The Spectrum Church, Orchard Community Church, and Trinity Bible Church which are represented by PJI in a joint effort with the Cannistraci Law Firm and McAllister Law Group.
Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told LifeNews after the ruling that he was pleased the nation’s highest court again ruled in favor of religious freedom.
“Gavin Newsom can get a reservation at The French Laundry but he can’t rewrite the First Amendment. States that intentionally target religious liberty have been slapped down by the courts again and again. The message is clear: this pandemic doesn’t rewrite the Constitution,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court issued an injunction stopping California
But Santa Clara had argued that its temporary ban on indoor gatherings of any kind including worship services should be allowed to stand.
n the prior ruling, the Court ruled in two cases, South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom and Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom. Both churches sued California Governor Gavin Newsom, challenging the state’s total ban on indoor worship services—the most extreme in the nation—which targeted churches for closure while allowing non-essential retail stores such as Macy’s to open to hundreds of customers, as well as hair salons, nail salons, and Hollywood soundstages.