Supreme Court upholds some church restrictions
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 5/30/20, 06:00 pm
South Bay United Pentecostal Church must limit its in-person worship services to 100 people after the U.S. Supreme Court denied its emergency appeal. The San Diego–area congregation sued to block California’s coronavirus-related restrictions limiting church attendance to 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 100. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four liberal justices in rejecting the appeal late on Friday. He said the state’s temporary limits on church services “appear consistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” in part because similar restrictions apply to movie theaters, concerts, and other large gatherings.
What about churches in the rest of the country? Rules about corporate worship vary among states, and similar cases are making their way through the courts. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas said they think California’s rules violate the U.S. Constitution because “a litany of other secular businesses” do not have the same occupancy caps.
Dig deeper: Read Steve West’s report in Liberties about changing COVID-19 guidelines for churches.
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