On Thursday December 3rd, the Supreme Court pushed California judges to overrule strict coronavirus restrictions in places of worship. This order is likely to overturn Governor Gavin Newsom’s barring on religious services.
Religious centers have argued that less stringent measures have been taken in many places such as malls which have a 25% capacity limit, grocery stores which have a 50% limit, and food packaging and processing centers which have no limit. So far over 99% of Californians are denied access to churches due to pandemic restrictions. In addition, ICU bed capacity is 15% short.
In an interview with USA Today, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra attempted to reiterate the state’s motive by speaking of the rising cases, “increasing at rates not even seen in the spring” He further stated that, “That surge threatens to overwhelm the state’s healthcare system, preventing it from treating COVID-19 patients and others requiring ICU care.”
(Photo Courtesy: LIONEL BONAVENTURE, AFP via Getty Images)
Early in November, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York imposed similar restrictions, in a 5-4 ruling, the high court only limited the number of worshippers per house from 10 to 25 in high-COVID-19 risk areas.
The Court has stated in majority that, “Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
It also ruled that Gov. Newsom’s mandate is illegal because it violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause, which restricts the size of religious gatherings by also treating non-religious groups separately.
California hit 18,041 new cases on December 2nd, the highest since the start of the pandemic. In addition, Santa Clara County has reached the purple tier, and nearly all non-essential indoor businesses must close.
Sources; Fox News, ABC News, USA Today
Feature Image: Photo Courtesy: CNN