From Kevin Daley:
JUST IN: the Supreme Court upholds California’s pandemic restrictions on worship services. Chief Justice Roberts joins the liberal justices on the 5-4 vote.
Trump appointee Justice Kavanaugh dissented and argued the California policy “indisputably discriminates against religion.”
Per Breitbart, 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.
Politico reports Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s liberals in rejecting a San Diego church’s request for relief from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s most recent directive limiting churches to 25% of their normal maximum capacity, with an absolute maximum of 100 people at any service.
In a three-page opinion issued just before the stroke of midnight Washington time, Roberts said it would be unwise for the court to intervene on an emergency basis as state officials try to grapple with the ebb and flow of a pandemic caused by a highly infectious and sometimes deadly virus.
“The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement,” Roberts wrote.
The chief justice, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said it was not the role of judges to substitute their judgment for health experts and elected officials who appear to be acting in good faith.
“Where those broad limits are not exceeded, they should not be subject to second-guessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary,’ which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people,” Roberts wrote.
However, the chief justice also seemed to reject the substance of the South Bay United Pentecostal Church’s complaint when he said the state order in question seemed “consistent with the First Amendment.” He said there were legitimate reasons to treat religious services differently from other activities, as many states’ lockdown schemes do.
“Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time. And the Order exempts or treats more leniently only dissimilar activities, such as operating grocery stores, banks, and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods,” Roberts wrote.