The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is an infamously liberal court. In a recent case, members of a California church attempted to argue before the Ninth Circuit Court that the state was infringing on their rights of free exercise of religion.
Specifically, using COVID-19 as a pretext, California attempted to use lockdown orders to prevent this church from holding worship services. The church also asked that the Ninth Circuit grant a temporary injunction that would allow it to hold worship services while the matter was under review. The Ninth Circuit, unsurprisingly, denied this.
However, the Supreme Court delivered a ruling on Friday, April 9 which refereed this and signaled a major victory for the right of religious freedom.
Here are the details of what exactly was in the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The Court’s Ruling
Specifically, the Supreme Court has not overruled the Ninth Circuit on the question of whether California has the right to suspend worship services or not. That matter is still under review by the Ninth Circuit.
However, the Supreme Court did decide that the Ninth Circuit was wrong in refusing to grant the California churchgoers the temporary injunction that they requested. Moreover, the language that the Supreme Court used in handing down that decision suggested that more pro-religious freedom rulings are likely to come down in the future as these and related matters continue to be litigated.
Specifically, the Supreme Court said the following in its recent 5-4 majority decision: “Applicants are likely to succeed on the merits of their free exercise claim; they are irreparably harmed by the loss of free exercise rights ‘for even minimal periods of time…’”
In short, the Supreme Court is putting such stress on the importance of religious rights as to indicate that it will not tolerate infringements of them for even a second. Thus, while the case has not yet been decided on the “merits” — that is, while the Ninth Circuit has not yet decided whether California truly has the right to shut down churches or not — even if the Ninth Circuit case goes against the California churchgoers, they will be able to take heart from this Supreme Court decision.
Why? Because with the Supreme Court taking such a firm stand on religious liberty, it will be virtually certain to overturn the Ninth Circuit’s ultimate decision on the merits if it should happen to go against the California churchgoers.