Harmeet Dhillon’s Center for American Liberty Battles Newsom’s California Lockdown

Gavin Newsom
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s hopes for a hassle-free lockdown have been dashed by a new conservative nonprofit, founded by First Amendment lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, which has filed a flurry of lawsuits on behalf of California residents and organizations who allege the state’s stay-at-home orders infringe on their constitutional rights.

Dhillon’s Center for American Liberty has filed seven lawsuits against Gov. Newsom (D) since the California lockdown began, featuring plaintiffs from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Two of the lawsuits, one on behalf of the South Bay United Pentecostal Church, and another on behalf of several California pastors and churchgoers, allege that the lockdowns have infringed on religious liberties granted in the U.S constitution.

“The Constitution doesn’t allow for state officials to treat churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples as second-class ‘non-essential’ organizations,” Dhillon said of the latter case.

“Marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores, fast food restaurants, laundromats, and numerous other businesses are allowed to operate provided social distancing standards are satisfied. The same should be true of houses of worship,” said Dhillon.

Another lawsuit filed by the Center for American Liberty seeks to reopen Orange County’s beaches, which have been closed by Gov. Newsom as part of the lockdown. The case alleges that the Governor overstepped his legal authority with the order to close beaches, and violated state and constitutional rights in doing so.

The Center for American Liberty also represents the 500,000 members of the Professional Beauty Federation of California, a trade association comprised of the owners of beauty clinics, barbers, and hair salon owners in the state. The association is suing Newsom over the shutdown of its members’ businesses.

Now all of the Center’s lawsuits against Newsom are related to shutdowns and lockdowns — one of the suits, Benitez V. Newsom, attempts to prevent Gov. Newsom from using the crisis to give a multi-million dollar handout to illegal aliens.

The lawsuit asks the California Supreme Court to stay an order from Newsom that grants $75 million in taxpayer money to unnamed non-profits to distribute to unemployed illegal aliens.

“The Governor made clear in his comments that he is giving $75 million in lieu of unemployment benefits that state and federal law bar to aliens working here illegally,” said Dhillon.

“It is also concerning that unnamed nonprofits, who have no accountability to the taxpayer, are going to receive and distribute taxpayer dollars.”

The Center for American Liberty, launched by Dhillon under the name Publius Lex last year, aims to provide a pro-liberty alternative to the ACLU, which is increasingly accused of abandoning a nonpartisan commitment to civil rights in favor of progressive posturing.

The ACLU, which used to be so committed to free speech and free association that it defended the KKK’s right to assemble, appears to have taken a sharp progressive turn in recent years.

According to the call for donations on its website, the ACLU’s priorities during the pandemic are to “protect voting rights, demand that vulnerable people in prisons, jails and immigration detention centers be released, and fight to ensure reproductive health care remains open and accessible to all who need it.”

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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.

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