Supreme Court strikes down Calif. limits on in-home religious services, prayer meetings

The Supreme Court struck down California Governor Gavin Newsom's coronavirus-related restrictions on home-based religious worship, including Bible studies.

Ruling recently on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus-related restrictions on home-based religious worship, including Bible studies and prayer meetings, the Supreme Court clearly showed that its liberal members are not so liberal with religious freedom, and that its conservatives are the ones who want Americans free to worship when and where they like.

The order from the court late on April 9 is the most recent in a series of cases in which justices have barred state and local officials from enforcing selected coronavirus-related restrictions on religious gatherings – rules that might have seemed unthinkable a little over a year ago.

The court’s five conservative justices agreed that California restrictions on in-home religious gatherings should be lifted for the time being, while the court’s three liberals and Chief Justice John Roberts would have kept the Bill-of-Rights-violating rules in place, according to a report at

California has already announced loosened restrictions on gatherings that are set to go into effect April 15. The changes come after infection rates have gone down in the state.

And now that President Donald Trump is out of office, of course.

The state currently has just over 3,590,000 people infected with COVID-19. Some 58,943 deaths have been officially blamed on the disease.

The case before the high court involved California rules that limit indoor social gatherings to no more than three households across most of the state. Attendees are required to wear masks and keep physical distance from one another. Different regulations apply to schools, grocery stores and churches.

The unsigned order from the court read: “California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise,” allowing hair salons, retail stores, and movie theaters, among other places, “to bring together more than three households at a time.”

A lower court “did not conclude that those activities pose a lesser risk of transmission than applicants’ proposed religious exercise at home,” it said.


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