California Governor Newsom’s restrictions on indoor religious gatherings were ruled against by the United States Supreme Court. This ruling came on December 3, 2020, just a week after it prohibited New York Governor Cuomo’s worship restrictions, in a 5-4 vote.
The decision is detailed in the Supreme Court Case, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo.
“The application for injunctive relief…is treated as a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, and the petition is granted,” wrote the Supreme Court in the decision Harvest Rock Church, Et Al. V. Newsom, Gov. of Ca. which references the New York case for its decision.
These decisions are just temporary injunctions from the regulations for religious gatherings until the case is eventually decided by the United States Court of Appeals. Despite this, the cases are seen as victories for religious groups in these states.
Many churches across California have complained about the restrictions. LifeNews.com, among other sources, has noted that “indoor worship services are completely prohibited for 99.1% of Californians,” while the chart attached to Governor Newsom’s Blueprint Tiers petition indicates that food packing and processing, laundromats, and warehouses have no capacity limits; liquor and grocery stores have a 50% capacity; and big box centers, shopping malls, laundromats, and destination centers are allowed a 25% capacity.
The ruling came after Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena filed legal action, hoping that the Los Angeles federal judge would block the restrictions placed by Governor Newsom.
In the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, which was referenced in the California decision, Justice Kavanaugh wrote, “…New York’s restrictions on houses of worship not only are severe, but also are discriminatory. In red and orange zones, houses of worship must adhere to numerical caps…but those caps do not apply to some secular buildings in the same neighborhoods. In an orange zone…essential businesses and many non-essential businesses are subject to no attendance caps at all.”
The issue that the court ruled on was the unequal and discriminatory regulations and the legal consequences that churches have faced for being open.
Harvest Rock Church has multiple campuses in California and over 162 member churches throughout the state. The campuses that have remained open are being subject to unconstitutional restrictions, fines imposed by the local courts, and even closure.
According to Pastor Ché Ahn in an interview on Newsmax, his congregants were threatened with $1000 fines per person, arrest of church members, and arrest of the church’s pastors if they continued to hold religious gatherings.