header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
66°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
March 1
1990 - President George H.W. Bush and Sheriff Sherman Block dedicate new North County Correctional Facility in Castaic [story]
ribbon cutting


| Saturday, May 30, 2020
The U.S. Supreme Court (Courthouse News photo/Jack Rodgers)
The U.S. Supreme Court. (Courthouse News photo/Jack Rodgers)

 

By Tim Ryan

WASHINGTON (CN) — Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court in a late-night ruling Friday declining to block California’s restrictions on reopening places of worship amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The order challenges rules California has placed on places of worship as part of its efforts to balance reopening the economy while also limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Under current rules, places of worship in California can reopen at 25% capacity, with a maximum of 100 attendees. Those guidelines came out on May 25 after California’s initial reopening plan put places of worship in the same stage of reopening as nail salons, movie theaters and tattoo parlors.

South Bay United Pentecostal Church challenged its placement within the reopening plan on May 8, questioning why schools, manufacturing facilities and even restaurants were allowed to open in some capacity under the order, but not California churches.

A federal judge denied the church’s request for a temporary restraining order and a week later the Ninth Circuit denied an injunction pending appeal.

In a ruling that saw Roberts joining with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the high court denied the church’s request for an injunction on Friday night.

In a three-page concurring opinion, Roberts explained the California reopening plan, while indeed a restriction on religious activity, does not treat places of worship any differently than other institutions that present the same risk of spreading the virus.

“Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time,” Roberts wrote. “And the order exempts or treats more leniently only dissimilar activities, such as operating grocery stores, banks and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods of time.”

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would have granted the church’s request for an injunction.

A three-page dissent penned by Kavanaugh and joined by Thomas and Gorsuch argues the restrictions violate the Constitution because they do not apply equally to secular businesses and California has not presented a compelling reason as to why.

“The church and its congregants simply want to be treated equally to comparable secular businesses,” Kavanaugh wrote in dissent. “California already trusts its residents and any number of businesses to adhere to proper social distancing and hygiene practices.”

The church had requested an injunction by Sunday, when Christians mark the holy day of Pentecost. In arguing for the court to block California’s restrictions, the church called the occupancy cap “arbitrary,” noting retail businesses are either subject to looser limits or no limits at all.

The church warned religious institutions around the country will start to reopen in defiance of government orders without definitive legal guidance from the high court on what is and is not allowed under the First Amendment.

“The deepening conflict between and among the various circuit courts of appeal has triggered serious uncertainty as to what legal standard applies when citizens consider whether and under what circumstances they may freely exercise their religious faith by attending services at their church, temple, mosque or other place of worship,” the church’s brief states.

Charles LiMandri, an attorney with the Rancho Santa Fe, California, firm LiMandri Jonna who represents the church, called the decision “disappointing,” but that the church will continue to press its case in lower courts.

“If it is necessary to go back up to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit rules again, we will benefit from a much more favorable standard,” LiMandri, who is working with the Thomas More Society on the case, said in a statement. “We are hopeful that fact would also lead to a better result for religious liberty.”

The California Attorney General’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment.

California argued the new guidance allowing places of worship to operate at 25% capacity make the claims irrelevant because the church is allowed to reopen, even if in limited fashion, and that the Supreme Court should not weigh in on the new limits that the lower courts never had the opportunity to address.

The state also argued it has a strong public interest in taking steps to protect public health during the ongoing pandemic.

“When the attendance restriction proves unnecessary, the state will lift it or loosen it,” California’s brief states. “In light of the tremendous uncertainty continuing to surround this new and deadly virus, however, it would be rash to do so today, before public-health officials have had the opportunity to evaluate evidence of the policy’s effectiveness in practice.”

On the same day, the court turned down a similar injunction request from a church in Illinois.

To view SCOTUS ruling and briefs from South Bay United Pentecostal Church and the state of California, see below:

 

[Open .pdf in new window]

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Monday, Mar 1, 2021
Newsom, Lawmakers Cut Deal to Reopen California Schools by April
In a rush to bring children back to California schools after a year of closed campuses, Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers said Monday the state will offer $2 billion to school districts willing to reopen next month.
Monday, Mar 1, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Shortages Highlight Health Inequities in L.A. County
The race to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles County despite vaccine shortages is cutthroat and most people don’t even know they’re in the competition.
Friday, Feb 26, 2021
Modified Sand Canyon Resort Project Up for Review
The Sand Canyon Resort project is scheduled to return before the Santa Clarita Planning Commission Tuesday with a series of revisions, following multiple concerns raised by both commissioners and residents.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
In partnership with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, the city of Santa Clarita will launch its “Guard That Auto” campaign this spring to combat an increase in grand theft auto over the past year.
Santa Clarita, Sheriff’s Station to Launch ‘Guard That Auto’ Anti-Theft Campaign
The Saugus High School academic decathlon team will advance to the state competition after placing in the top 10 in the county competition.
Saugus High Advances in State Academic Decathlon
Spring is upon us, and with it comes longer days, greener hillsides, and warmer temperatures that invite outdoor exploration.
Mayor’s March Message: Enjoy Spring in Santa Clarita
The city of Santa Clarita, in partnership with the Santa Clarita Sister Cities program, invites local students to submit artwork, poetry, essays/creative writing, photographs, or music for the 2021 Sister Cities International Young Artists and Authors Showcase.
Young Artists Invited to Submit Works in 2021 Sister Cities International Showcase
In a rush to bring children back to California schools after a year of closed campuses, Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers said Monday the state will offer $2 billion to school districts willing to reopen next month.
Newsom, Lawmakers Cut Deal to Reopen California Schools by April
The race to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles County despite vaccine shortages is cutthroat and most people don’t even know they’re in the competition.
COVID-19 Vaccine Shortages Highlight Health Inequities in L.A. County
1990 - President George H.W. Bush and Sheriff Sherman Block dedicate new North County Correctional Facility in Castaic [story]
ribbon cutting
1890 - Jenkins ranch hands Dolores Cook and George Walton of Castaic slain by rival William Chormicle and W.A. Gardener [story]
Dolores Cook
1950 - Ex-Mrs. William S. Hart appears in court to challenge will that leaves Hart Park & Mansion to L.A. County [story]
Winifred Westover
The Sand Canyon Resort project is scheduled to return before the Santa Clarita Planning Commission Tuesday with a series of revisions, following multiple concerns raised by both commissioners and residents.
Modified Sand Canyon Resort Project Up for Review
Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Friday confirmed 144 new deaths and 1,838 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, with 26,045 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: SCV Cases Total 26,045; Nearly 2 Million Doses Administered in County
The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles announced on Feb. 26 that Kenya Yarbrough will lead its newly-created and first-ever Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, Access, and Advocacy Initiative.
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Launches First-Ever Diversity and Advocacy Department
The Valley Industry Association will welcome College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook as the keynote speaker for the March VIA Virtual Series taking place Tuesday, March 16, from 11:00 a.m to 12:15 p.m.
March 16: VIA Virtual Series with Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook
The city of Santa Clarita’s Planning Commission will hold a regular meeting virtually Tuesday, March 2, at 6:00 p.m.
March 2: Planning Commission Virtual Regular Meeting
The Child and Family Center's Domestic Violence Program is set to host its fourth annual "Night of Expression" art exhibit on Saturday, Feb. 27, in recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Feb. 27: Child and Family Center to Host Virtual Teen Dating Violence Awareness Art Exhibit
California Department of Public Health officials announced on Feb. 26 that California is on track to create the capacity to administer 3 million vaccinations per week by March 1.
State on Track to Reach Capacity Goal of 3 Million Vaccines Per Week, Pending Available Supply
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital is set to host events and classes in March to celebrate National Nutrition Month.
Henry Mayo to Host Events, Classes for National Nutrition Month
The college district received the best rating possible in an independent audit of its general obligation bond expenditures.
Independent Audit Finds College District in Full Compliance
After being shuttered for almost a year due to pandemic restrictions, Mountasia Family Fun Center has been purchased by MB2 Group.
MB2 Group Purchases Mountasia Family Fun Center
The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced a new round of extensions for commercial driver’s licenses expiring through May 31 that will help commercial drivers focus on delivering essential products and supplies during the COVID-19 emergency.
DMV Extends Expiring Commercial Driver’s Licenses Through May
1923 - U.S. release of Charles Chaplin film "The Pilgrim," partially shot at Saugus Train Station & Newhall First Presbyterian Church [watch]
The Pilgrim
Fry's Electronics, the consumer electronics retailer, announced Wednesday that it is going out of business after nearly 36 years.
Fry’s Electronics Closing All Its Stores
The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) announced Thursday the upcoming launch of the Los Angeles Online Dispute Resolution (LA-ODR) program, in collaboration with the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County and its Dispute Resolution Program (DRP), and the Center for Conflict Resolution.
L.A. County Launches Program to Help Litigants Settle Cases Online
A former manager of the Valencia COVID-19 testing lab is being sued by the operator for breaching her contract after she accused the company of poor performance.
PerkinElmer Suing Whistleblower for Breach of Contract
%d bloggers like this: