The South Bay United Pentecostal Church vs. Newsom case, which challenged California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on all indoor worship services, under the auspices of protecting people from catching or spreading the coronavirus, was just decided on Friday. As attorneys Harmeet Dhillon and Mark Meuser announced, the Supreme Court granted their request for an injunction pending appeal, meaning the South Bay United Pentecostal Church can immediately re-open indoor worship services – but only at 25% capacity.
While legally thumping the governor over his unlawful edicts is important, Gov. Newsom, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, and none of the other public health officials or scientists in the state have the authority to take away the right to public worship. A supposed health crisis does not suspend the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights, as Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch explained earlier this year.
In this decision, Gorsuch said, “California no longer asks its movie studios, malls, and manicurists to wait. As this crisis enters its second year—and hovers over a second Lent, a second Passover, and a second Ramadan—it is too late for the state to defend extreme measures with claims of temporary exigency, if it ever could. Drafting narrowly tailored regulations can be difficult. But if Hollywood may host a studio audience or film a singing competition while not a single soul may enter California’s churches, synagogues, and mosques, something has gone seriously awry.”
Justice Gorsuch said lower courts should have followed the “extensive guidance” previously given by the Supreme Court. “This court made it abundantly clear that edicts like California’s fail strict scrutiny and violate the Constitution.”
As Attorney Mark Meuser said, the decision says “the state cannot allow commerce the green light (COSTCO, Walmart, Home Depot, Target) and not religion.” Big box stores and Hollywood movie sets do not have greater rights than churches.
Our rights as Americans were enumerated in the Constitution and further detailed in the Bill of Rights “in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added.” The First of the says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Americans do not have to ask politicians, scientists or bureaucrats their permission for these rights.
However, Gov. Newsom already announced that he and his public health bureaucrats will issue revised guidelines with respect to indoor worship services in light of the Court’s decision.
“California is still suppressing religious gatherings by imposing permanent capacity limitations and by banning singing and chanting,” Attorney Dhillon said.
Another religious freedom case the Supreme Court just ruled on is Gish v. Newsom. SCOTUS “completely vacated the lower court’s decision that denied millions of Californians the right to gather together and worship in-person,” Attorney Dhillon said when she announced the victorious decision. “That’s right, the Supreme Court ruled that both the District Court and the Ninth Circuit were wrong when they denied our request for an injunctive relief.”
However, Dhillon and Meuser now have to go back to the District Court to present that case again. “The Supreme Court ruled that the District Court and the 9th Circuit got it wrong,” Meuser said. “Clear back in April, the District Court told us no, but the Supreme Court sent it back down to the District judge to hear again.”
“Freedom is not free, and courts are not quick,” Meuser said.
With this case, as in South Bay United, Gov. Newsom and his scientists/bureaucrats/public health doctors are trying to get away with imposing new restrictions to how people worship, and they are still restricting how many people can gather to worship.
California’s Governor, politicians and bureaucrats have just been told by the highest court in the country they do not get to arbitrarily decree that joining in an “mostly peaceful” Antifa and BLM riot is okay because the rioters are exercising their First Amendment rights, but then limit the scope of religious freedom by saying that going to church is a dangerous super-spreader event.
Thugs destroying and burning businesses in urban cities is okay, but worshiping in church is somehow more dangerous?
The governor, and his bureaucrats will continue to try and limit Californians’ freedoms in their desperation to keep hold of this unconstitutional power they’ve been allowed over 11 months, but for now, the U.S. Supreme Court is on our side – the side of freedom and religious liberty.
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