At about midnight last night the United States Supreme Court, in a 5.4 decision, upheld California’s restrictions on the number of people who can attend church services during the coronavirus emergency. Scotusblog has posted the written decision.
The South Bay United Pentecostal Church, near San Diego, had asked the court to block enforcement of the Governor of California’s Executive Order restricting the number of people who can attend church services to 25% of building capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower. The church claimed the Order discriminated against religious institutions in violation of the Constitution.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal members of the Court in denying the church’s request. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the dissenting opinion.
The Chief Justice noted that there was no evidence of religious discrimination because restrictions on church attendance were similar to those imposed on places of “comparable secular gatherings” such as movie theaters, concert halls and sports venues where “large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time.”
Justice Kavanaugh claimed that the Order discriminates against churches because banks, florists, restaurants, grocery stores, laundromats and other “comparable secular businesses” are not subject to the same restrictions. Roberts countered that these are “dissimilar activities” in which “people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods.”
Roberts also noted that deciding when to lift restrictions during the pandemic is a “dynamic fact-intensive matter” best left to the elected branches of government.
Hopefully this puts an end to these ridiculous lawsuits.