According to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the government has “emergency powers” that supersede Americans’ fundamental constitutional rights.
Who declares an emergency? Government officials and their media accomplices, is who.
The court made that finding as it upheld California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on in-person church services amid the COVID-19 outbreak, ruling on May 22 that the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in San Diego cannot reopen immediately, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
In this case “constitutional standards that would normally govern our review of a Free Exercise claim should not be applied,” the two judges in the majority wrote in their order.
“We’re dealing here with a highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there presently is no known cure. In the words of Justice Robert Jackson, if a ‘(c)ourt does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact,’” they wrote.
The decision is likely to further alienate those who claim that California’s rules to stop the spread of the virus violate religious freedoms, or who find the words “often fatal disease” debatable.
President Trump on May 22 designated houses of worship as “essential” and called on governors nationwide to let them reopen by the weekend even though some areas remain under coronavirus lockdown.
The president threatened to “override” governors who defy him, presumably meaning he would side with those facing punishment for freely exercising their religion.
In a letter to Newsom, Robert H. Tyler, an attorney representing a Lodi church that has challenged the governor’s order, said more than 1,200 pastors have signed a “Declaration of Essentiality,” asserting their churches are as essential as any grocery or hardware store and should be allowed to reopen.