In a narrow 5-4 ruling the Supreme Court has blocked California from stopping in-home bible study groups from their religious assembly. Chief Justice Roberts joined the three leftist judges Kagan, Bryer and Sotomayor. [pdf link here] Apparently the first amendment barely survived this visit by the high court.
♦ Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
(SCOTUS BLOG) – […] In an unsigned opinion, the majority wrote that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s failure to put California’s COVID restrictions on hold was “erroneous.” The Supreme Court’s decisions in earlier challenges to COVID-related restrictions have, the justices wrote, “made several points clear.” Among other things, the majority stressed, government regulations are subject to heightened scrutiny whenever they treat any secular activity more favorably than religious activity; it doesn’t matter that the state also treats some secular businesses or activities poorly. Moreover, the majority added, a case may remain a live controversy even if the government changes the policy – particularly when, as here, “officials with a track record of ‘moving the goalposts’ retain authority to reinstate those heightened restrictions at any time.”
In her dissent, Kagan contended that the First Amendment “requires that a State treat religious conduct as well as the State treats comparable secular conduct.” That, she wrote, is what California has done, by adopting “a blanket restriction on at-home gatherings of all kinds.” (read more)
The Supreme Court has ruled against tyrannical California Governor Gavin Newsom yet again, striking down his unlawful lockdown orders issued by him.
Late on Friday night, the nation’s highest court ruled against Newsom’s lockdown to limit “home-based religious worship, including Bible studies and prayer meetings.”
The Supreme Court dismissed the case without hearing and ruled in favor of the petitioners in the case Ritesh Tandon, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, et. al.
The case was fought by The Center for American Liberty, a law firm that defends the constitutional rights of American citizens.
“First, government regulations are not neutral and generally applicable, and therefore trigger strict scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause, whenever they treat any comparable secular activity more favorably than religious exercise,” the Per Curiam opinion read.
“Second, whether two activities are comparable for purposes of the Free Exercise Clause must be judged against the asserted government interest that justifies the regulation at issue,” it went on.
“Third, the government has the burden to establish that the challenged law satisfies strict scrutiny,” it continued.
“Fourth, even if the government withdraws or modifies a COVID restriction in the course of litigation, that does not necessarily moot the case,” it added.
“This is the fifth time the Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise,” the court said. It listed Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom, South Bay, Gish v. Newsom, and Gateway City as prior cases.
“It is unsurprising that such litigants are entitled to relief,” the Supreme Court opinion added.
This is a huge win for the state of California, but still scary that four of the nine Justices ruled against religious freedoms and liberty in America.
What are your thoughts America?