The Supreme Court on Friday night ruled in favor of coronavirus restrictions on religious services in California in a 5-4 decision.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four liberal justices to side with California’s legal argument that they had the right to shut down or limit religious services.
The decision came as thousands of protesters around the country gathered to protest the death of George Floyd, after a police officer in Minneapolis subdued him by kneeling on his neck for several minutes.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, and Brett M. Kavanaugh voted against.
In his dissent, Kavanaugh argued that “comparable secular businesses” such as supermarkets, stores, hair salons, and marijuana dispensaries were not subject to the same restrictions as churches.
“The church and its congregants simply want to be treated equally to comparable secular businesses,” Kavanaugh wrote. “California already trusts its residents and any number of businesses to adhere to proper social distancing and hygiene practices.”
The case was brought to the Supreme Court by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, Ca
California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered that in-church gatherings can only reach 25 percent of capacity and under 100 people.
President Trump last week demanded that all religious services be considered “essential services” during the coronavirus pandemic, just as liquor stores and grocery stores are.
Roberts’ decision to side with the liberals marks a stark contrast with judicial precedence to side with religious liberty enshrined in the Constitution.
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