There was no notable opposition.
This is the latest case to reach the Supreme Court pitting advocates of religious freedom against government and local officials trying to protect individuals from Covid-19. The judges have already been bitterly divided on the issue.
In a late-night order issued on Thanksgiving Eve, a court ruled 5-4 in favor of places of worship challenging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions, arguing that they have treated religious organizations more harshly than secular companies in violation of the rules of law. First amendment.
Judge Amy Connie Barrett’s vote in the case was crucial because before she took the podium, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg and three other Liberals on court last spring and summer to rule against houses of worship in similar cases outside Nevada and California.
In the case in question, the California Department of State accused Newsom, a Democrat, of continuing to impose a “strict and unreasonable ban” on the lives of California residents, and accused the governor of ignoring the restrictions “at his discretion.”
In California, Newsom designed a tiered approach based on geographic location.
A church attorney said that while religious worship is sometimes “severely restricted,” there are no similar restrictions for groceries, large retail stores, laundries, and warehouses.
The attorney said, “The differential treatment of religion compared to similar non-religious groups greatly burdens the churches’ practice of religion and violates the First Amendment.
California State Attorney Xavier Becera rejected the church’s allegations and told judges that the restrictions also apply to museums, movie theaters and restaurants. He also indicated that there is a new spike in the boom currently.
In court papers, Becera argued that the state issued “a limited stay-at-home order that places a one-month ban on non-essential work and gatherings in Level 1 counties from 10 pm-5 am.”
“We are aware that the current restrictions are inconsistent with the claimants’ legitimate interest in participating in the domestic worship service – and the state is committed to easing these restrictions as soon as public health conditions permit, as it has done in the recent past,” he said. “At the moment, however, this temporary intervention is justified in the state’s interest in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 through tailored and evidence-based policies that are proportional to the degree of risk posed by certain activities.”
He distinguished his restrictions from those imposed by Cuomo of New York, arguing that California had adopted a “ad hoc policy” with restrictions on internal activities “commensurate with the public health risks associated with each activity.”
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