In denying a request by three southern California churches to continue holding in-person services during the coronavirus pandemic, a judge has declared that the state is empowered to “infringe on fundamental constitutional rights” of American citizens.
In a ruling on April 22, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal denied the churches’ request for a temporary restraining order against Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. The request came from Shield of Faith Family Church, Word of Life Ministries International and Church Unlimited.
Bernal rejected the idea that Newsom’s stay-at-home orders violated their first amendment rights to freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, The Associated Press reported.
“During the state of emergency the executive powers are in effect, in that they are empowered to provide for emergency remedies which may infringe on fundamental constitutional rights,” Bernal said, adding that a formal opinion is forthcoming.
Harmeet Dhillon, national committeewoman of the Republican National Committee for California and CEO of the Center for American Liberty, said churches have been singled out while other businesses such as grocery stores have remained open as essential. She argued that, for many, church services are equally essential.
In a series of tweets Wednesday night Dhillon said that citizens should “count on more restrictions on all your civil rights in California with no end in sight, if this is the reasoning courts will be applying.”