Feb, 9th 2021 – U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that churches in California can finally restart their indoor worship services, though only at 25% capacity.
The Friday night ruling comes after months of legal battles over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19-related restrictions.
The case led by South Bay United Pentecostal Church in the San Diego area, noted Politico which reported that the court released a similar order in a parallel suit filed by Harvest Rock Church In Pasadena .
The churches argued that they should have the same freedom as shopping malls and retail businesses that are allowed to operate at 25% of their capacity.
Chief Justice John Roberts took a middle path and voted, along with Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, to lift the ban on indoor worship while retaining the restriction on singing, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“The applicants bore the burden of establishing their entitlement to relief from the singing ban. In my view, they did not carry that burden at least not on this record,” Barrett wrote.
Roberts wrote, “The State’s present determination that the maximum number of adherents who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake. Deference, though broad, has its limits.”
Last month, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied South Bay United Pentecostal Church’s request to overturn the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on indoor worship gatherings while acknowledging that the congregation was suffering irreparable harm due to the temporary ban.