SCOTUS strikes down California rule restricting in-home religious gatherings

Religious liberty has been one of the most alarming casualties of the coronavirus pandemic, with Democrat governors across the country placing severe restrictions on the rights of individuals to freely worship.

In an encouraging development, however, the United States Supreme Court on Friday struck down a California rule designed to curtail in-home religious gatherings, finding that the restriction was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, as USA Today reported.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court halted California’s ability to enforce limits on in-person religious meetings taking place in homes, such as Bible study and prayer groups, as Politico noted. At the heart of the decision was California’s restriction capping indoor gatherings at no more than three different households, a stricter standard than applied to a host of other settings, with the unsigned opionion explaining:

California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts, and indoor restaurants to bring together more than three households at a time.

The majority also found that the lower court failed to demonstrate that in-home religious gatherings posed a greater risk of coronavirus spread than those secular activities, and that the petitioners in the case, Rev. Jeremy Wong and Karen Busch of Santa Clara County, were “irreparably harmed by the loss of free exercise rights” guaranteed by the Constitution, as the Washington Times reported.

To the frustration of conservative court watchers, joining the minority in voting to uphold California’s restriction was Chief Justice John Roberts, though he did not sign on to a dissent issued by Justice Elena Kagan.

The dissent, which was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, argued that “California need not…treat at-home religious gatherings the same as hardware stores and hair salons. The law does not require that the State equally treat apples and watermelons,” as Politico noted, also suggesting that the majority opinion effectively hinders the ability of state officials to address public health emergencies.

This was not the first time the high court took strong action against attempts to restrict religious freedom amid the coronavirus crisis.

In November, a ruling barred New York state officials from reimposing certain limits on religious gatherings, and in February, the justices lifted California’s ban indoor worship services.

While the court’s decision – narrow as it was – to stand against California’s infringement on the fundamental religious liberty of its citizens is certainly heartening, the broader erosion of freedoms resulting from draconian COVID-19 lockdowns nationwide may prove difficult to unwind.

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19 Responses

  1. How can going out to eat or getting your hair and nails done be safer than attending a service and worshiping our Lord, prayers for all

  2. What Blue Blazes do they mean by a FIVE TO FOUR vote? We really need to keep an eye on some of these CJs.

  3. My church, in California, is meeting regularly. We started outdoors , chairs spread apart, and our little babies were put on little blankets and quilts. Toddlers ran around, didn’t bother us at all. Now we are meeting in our large fellowship hall with chairs spread apart and members wearing masks. We are enjoying our services being in God’s House. No one has experienced any Covid in church! God is good!!

  4. God is bigger than satan.Thank you God .We all must continue praying about all the wrongs taking place in the country now.Prayer changes things .

  5. How can you explain that getting together in this crisis. Beauty parlors and Barber shop is diferrente that getting tohether in a Home. Answer is that Religious Home you Pray and that is the Big Diference. Taking God out.

  6. Democraps can let you go to walmart all day long but don’t you dare go to church. Everyday i wake up hoping yesterday was all a bad dream… the nightmare will continue for at least 4 more years… hope all the trump haters who voted for king biden get what is coming to you… we all will have to pay..

  7. Gavin is finished no matter his Auntie Nancy Pelosi wants him as President
    He had no right to shut down Freedom of Religion
    He’s like Commie Joe and wants to be a Dictator

  8. why should you keep asking the same question all of the time ?you know the answer before you ask it ?its dam well for sure Trump was and will always be the best president our country has had for years ,we have had two good men before Trump.Regan Roosevelt loved our country and not the party the left wing democrats just loves there party and not the people ,,,,,thank you and have nice day !!!

  9. Why bother, you will erase any comments you don’t like!!! Let’s see if you have the balls to print this?

    So, I will do it anyway! You should never ERASE ANYTHING someone has to say. We call it free speech! Biden is not the president, COVID is over here in Texas and JUSTICE ROBERTS IS A NAZI and is being controlled by the left! What did he do? Could it be that he ILLEGALLY ADOPTED HIS 2 CHILDREN? Also, what is happening at the border IS A CRIME!!!

      1. I don’t believe that there is any proof or even any evidence indicating that the disease is being spread in church. What is evident to me is the liberals’ attempt to destroy our religious freedom.

        1. Religious freedoms aren’t the only constitutional right this fraudulent presidency is trying to destroy. The hell of it is, you ain’t seen nothing yet as these slim balls are determined to force communism on the citizenry and they will succeed if there is not one hell of a fight put up against them !!!!!

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