It was recently reported that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan ordered California Gov. Gavin Newsom to respond to an emergency petition filed by Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which requests an injunction pending appeal in their federal lawsuit against the governor.
Apparently the governor and his legal team ignored the church’s emergency petition, eliciting the directive from Justice Kagan.
The church alleges that the governor’s executive orders imposing lockdowns since March specifically target and discriminate against houses of worship in California.
“Harvest ministries fall in Tier 1, in which the governor prohibits all indoor worship services, including home Bible studies where those who do not live in the host’s home are prohibited from participating,” The Center Square reported. “Since March, Newsom has allowed feeding, sheltering, and nonreligious counseling with an unlimited number of people in the same church building, but once these or other activities become ‘religious’ in nature they are either banned or severely restricted, Liberty Counsel says.”
Just last week, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Brooklyn, New York Diocese and Orthodox Jewish synagogues in their case against the state’s COVID restrictions, Catholic News Agency reported.
“According to the churches’ appeal, California banned indoor worship ‘in over 41 counties,’ prohibited singing as a high-risk activity in counties where indoor worship was allowed, and even banned some indoor religious gatherings in private homes.”
“Harvest Rock alleged that Newsom has applied a double-standard during the nine months of the pandemic, curbing religious services while allowing comparable non-religious gatherings and mass protests to continue ‘without numerical restriction.’”
Catholic News Agency said Harvest Rock Church reported that following Newsom’s order, local officials began sending letters “threatening up to 1 year in prison, daily criminal charges and $1,000 fines against the pastors, church, governing board, staff, and parishioners” if they did not comply with the restrictions.
“The church filed the lawsuit against the state, but a district court would not grant its request to halt the restrictions. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled against the church in October, refusing to overrule the district court’s decision and saying that while the state provided expert testimony to support its public health restrictions, the church had not provided its own health expert to make its case.”
Justice Kagan was recently assigned to oversee the Ninth Circuit.