In light of a new court ruling, California Gov. Gavin Newsom must now revise his state’s COVID-19 pandemic restrictions placed on churches and other houses of worship. Newsom’s press secretary, Daniel Lopez, made the announcement following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Friday.
New Court Ruling
The Supreme Court decision came late Friday evening, reversing some of the restrictions that the state had in place on indoor worship services because of the pandemic. The court ruled 6-3 in favor of the South Bay United Pentecostal Church of San Diego. The lower courts had previously ruled that the state’s strict restrictions on worship, singing, and chanting were legal because they were instituted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In light of the decision, California can continue to limit church capacity at up to 25%.
How the Judges Ruled
In a concurring opinion, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas made their case for overturning the 25% capacity limit and the ban on singing. Fellow conservative Justice Samuel Alito argued that California should be given 30 days to prove to the courts that the restrictions were needed to stop the spread of the virus.
New Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote her first opinion for the highest court in the land, arguing that the ban on singing and chanting could continue. Justice Brett Kavanaugh concurred with this opinion.
Left-leaning Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor all deferred to the state in the court’s official dissent. The dissent argued that the court’s majority opinion went beyond the proper role of the judiciary and should not displace the opinion of trained scientists who recommended stricter measures.