PASADENA (CBSLA/AP) — The Supreme Court of the United States ruled Friday that California cannot enforce a ban on indoor church services due to the pandemic.
The ruling was is response to filings from churches in Pasadena, including Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministries, and the South Bay United Pentecostal Church, in Chula Vista.READ MORE: Burbank Sues To Enforce Closure Order Against Tinhorn Flats; Seeks Permission To Cut Off Electricity, Padlock Doors
Both ministries had filed emergency requests to halt the restrictions that attempting to ban indoor services.
The justices in their ruling said the state can cap indoor services at 25% of a building’s capacity. The justices also declined to stop California from enforcing a ban put in place last summer on indoor singing and chanting.
For churches in Los Angeles County, they had already been operating indoors after the county said they cannot restrict them from doing so. That said, a variety of cases have been filed throughout the year against counties and the state for trying to shut down indoor worship.
On Friday, the High Court lifted the state’s ban on indoor worship during the pandemic. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that “federal courts owe significant deference to politically accountable officials” when it comes to public health restrictions, but he said deference “has its limits.”READ MORE: Firefighters Battle Blaze At Strip Mall In Paramount
Roberts wrote that California’s determination “that the maximum number of adherents who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero—appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake.”
In response, Governor Newsom’s office has now issued revised guidelines, still setting limits as to how many people can attend those services. The new state guidelines limit attendance at indoor services in areas with widespread or substantial virus spread to 25% of a building’s capacity. Indoor services in areas with moderate to minimum spread are limited to 50% capacity.
The state had prohibited celebrations in purple-tiered counties, which included areas with the highest risk of COVID transmission. But the Supreme Court ruled the ban violated First Amendment guarantees, which attorneys for Harvest Rock Church argued.
“The Supreme Court has said, in California, there is no world in which the Constitution permits a governor with the mere flick of a pen, to close churches, while he keeps a vast majority of other, non-religious gatherings opened,” said Daniel Schmid, a Liberty Counsel Litigation Attorney.MORE NEWS: 'Absolutely Reckless': California Governor Slams Texas Move To Lift Mask Mandate
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