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SCOTUS Denies CA Church's Challenge To COVID Related Restrictions

In a rare rebuke of conservative demands, Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberal wing, ruling that California restrictions were legal.
SCOTUS Denies CA Church's Challenge To COVID Related Restrictions
Image from: Wikimedia Commons

In a rare late night ruling, the Supreme Court rejected a California church's request to exempt them from COVID related restrictions on worship services. Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberals in denying the challenge in a 5-4 ruling. Drunk frat boy, Brett Kavanaugh, wrote the dissent, of course.

In the ruling, Roberts wrote that Govenor Newsom had "leeway to impose restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and had not singled out places of worship for unfair treatment." He went on to say “the notion that it is ‘indisputably clear’ that the government’s limitations are unconstitutional seems quite improbable." He was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in the decision to deny the request for intervention.

The court’s conservative justices said they would have granted the request for immediate intervention because they believe "the state’s new rules likely violate the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion."

Kavanaugh, in his dissent, said: “California’s latest safety guidelines discriminate against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such discrimination violates the First Amendment.” He was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch. Alito would have granted the church's request, but did not join Kavanaugh's statement. I am not sure what to make of that.

Churches are eager to reopen, regardless of the danger it poses to their congregation. And it poses real dangers. One church choir member spread COVID to 87% of the members just by singing. Infection Control Today actually said that churches are the most dangerous places in the COVID pandemic, saying "asymptomatic spread and aerosolization of the virus from singing" make churches particularly ripe for the spread of COVID to their members. A megachurch in Sacramento was linked to the spread of more than 70 cases. There is no safe way to be in a small room, singing loudly and passing around plates for donations during COVID.

That hasn't stopped churches from wanting to reopen, probably because they need money. Is that what is causing the push to reopen, even against medical advice?

Some states are slowly easing restrictions and allowing small services of 10 and under or 25% or less of the congregants. Will this ease the transmission of COVID? We will find out in 2 weeks, I guess. A large majority of houses of worship, including synagogues, mosques and many other Christian churches have opted to live stream their services online, putting their congregants and clergy first. Clearly, not all churches feel this way.

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