Churches in California received a major victory today when the Supreme Court struck down California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on indoor worship services. The unsigned decision follow quickly on the heels of a major ruling at Thanksgiving striking down a New York ordinance severely limiting church attendance to as low as 10 people.
The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with a California church challenging Newsom’s order. The unsigned order had no dissents as the nation’s highest court tossed out an order from the federal district judge Central District of California, which had upheld Newsom’s restrictions.
The justices vacated the district judge’s ruling and sent the case back down to the lower court for further consideration in light of its ruling in Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which struck down New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions.
“The application for injunctive relief, presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court, is treated as a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, and the petition is granted. The September 2 order of the United States District Court for the Central District of California is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with instructions to remand to the District Court for further consideration in light of Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, 592 U. S. ___ (2020).”
Tuesday, Liberty Counsel filed the final reply brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding its request for an injunction pending appeal in the churches’ federal lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional worship ban and discriminatory treatment. The emergency petition also requested the extraordinary relief that the Court alternatively consider it as a petition for writ of cert before judgment.
Today, the Supreme Court granted the petition, vacated the lower court orders, and remanded the case for further consideration in light of its ruling last week that granted an injunction pending appeal for churches and synagogues in New York.
The restrictions against places of worship in California are more severe than those in New York. Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders ban ALL in-person worship for 99.1 percent of Californians.
Harvest Rock Church has multiple campuses in California, including in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Irvine and Corona. Harvest International Ministries (HIM) has 162 member churches throughout the state. Irreparable harm is being suffered every day as the churches remain subject to the unconstitutional restrictions, coupled with daily criminal threats, fines, and closure.
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The Code Enforcement Division for the City of Pasadena and the Criminal Prosecutor have threatened criminal charges, fines, and closure for being open for worship against the governor’s orders and local health orders. The letters threaten up to one year in prison, daily criminal charges and $1,000 fines against the pastors, staff, and parishioners.
The discrimination has become more obvious and severe in Gov. Newsom’s new “Blueprint” issued on August 28, 2020, which established a system of four Tiers. The “Blueprint” discriminates against religious meetings in churches and places of worship in every Tier. The chart attached to the petition makes this discrimination very clear. For example, the consequence of the sea of purple in the “color-coded executive edict” is that indoor worship services are completely prohibited for 99.1 percent of Californians, including most of Harvest Rock and HIM churches. However, warehouses, big box centers, shopping malls, liquors stores, family entertainment and destination centers, gyms, fitness centers, and museums receive preferential treatment with either no capacity limits or no numerical limits.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court provides great relief for churches and places of worship. The handwriting is now on the wall. The final days of Governor Gavin Newsom’s ‘color-coded executive edicts’ banning worship are numbered and coming to an end. It is past time to end these unconstitutional restrictions on places of worship.”