The Supreme Court in a divided decision ruled in favor of lifting restrictions on in-home religious gatherings, rejecting a lower court ruling that upheld Gov. Gavin Newsom’s capacity limits.
The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision late Friday that the government must first prove religious gatherings pose a greater danger than secular activities like shopping or attending movies before limiting these gatherings.
“Otherwise, precautions that suffice for other activities suffice for religious exercise too,” the majority opinion said, adding that California “treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts and indoor dining at restaurants to bring together more than three households at a time.”
The Court also noted that it was the fifth time it had overturned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ analysis of California COVID restrictions.
“The state reasonably concluded that when people gather in social settings, their interactions are likely to be longer than they would be in a commercial setting,” the Ninth Circuit had written. “That participants in a social gathering are more likely to be involved in prolonged conversations; that private houses are typically smaller and less ventilated than commercial establishments; and that social distancing and mask-wearing are less likely in private settings and enforcement is more difficult.”
The lawsuit had been brought by residents in Santa Clara County, who claimed California’s restricting their religious meetings violated their First Amendment rights.
California has already announced a loosening of COVID restrictions on indoor gatherings that takes effect on April 15.
Read the Supreme Court ruling:
Alex Jones breaks the news that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down the right to carry in any capacity in public.