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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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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Sat, 05/30/2020 09:18 pm

    John Roberts has proved to be a disappointment for real conservatives. What other aspects of religious liberty will he dismantle. This ruling will set precedents for years to come!

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Sun, 05/31/2020 07:24 pm

    I am very disappointed in John Roberts. From declaring the Affordable Care Act was a justifiable tax, to churches can have limits on assembly, he is far from a CONSERVATIVE voice on the Court. 

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Mon, 06/01/2020 02:54 pm

    Why is it that only Republican nominees disappoint (Brennan, Powell, Kennedy, Souter, Roberts, etc.)? The Democrats never miss an opportunity to move the Court to the left without exception. The Republicans are too often left with "maybe next time."

  •  Xion's picture
    Xion
    Posted: Mon, 06/01/2020 03:04 pm

    “Assuming all of the same precautions are taken, why can someone safely walk down a grocery store aisle but not a pew?” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “And why can someone safely interact with a brave deliverywoman but not with a stoic minister?”

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