In a huge victory for churches in California, the Supreme Court overturned a September ruling today which upheld California’s COVID policies that severely restricted church attendance during the pandemic:
BAKERSFIELD – The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a lower federal court to reexamine California restrictions on indoor religious services in areas hard hit by the coronavirus in light of the justices’ recent ruling in favor of churches and synagogues in New York.
The high court’s unsigned order, with no noted dissent, leaves the California restrictions in place for now. But it throws out a federal district court ruling that rejected a challenge to the limits from Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has more than 160 churches across the state.
Last week, the Supreme Court split 5-4 in holding that New York could not enforce certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues.
With a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has put most of the state under heightened restrictions, which include a ban on indoor singing and chanting.
Here’s the actual SCOTUS ruling:
The application for injunctive relief, presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court, is treated as a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, and the petition is granted. The September 2 order of the United States District Court for the Central District of California is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with instructions to remand to the District Court for further consideration in light of Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, 592 U. S. ___ (2020).
As the AP noted, the order wasn’t signed and had not dissent. But the Supreme Court clearly instructed the lower court to rule based on their prior ruling that denied New York Governor Andrew Cuomo the ability to set limits on church capacities, saying he’d violated their first amendment rights to free speech.
If this lower court insists on not following the Supreme Court’s Cuomo ruling, then you can be sure the high court will end up ruling in favor of the churches on its own.