Supreme Court rejects California's ban on worship - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Supreme Court rejects California’s ban on worship

The United States Supreme Court has exempted churches from California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order that limits indoor gatherings in specific counties that are battling COVID-19 infections.

But the court, in a 6-3 ruling, did allow the governor of California to forbid singing and chanting at those worship services, in counties where health officials say the COVID-19 virus is spreading rapidly. California uses a tiered system, and for those counties in the “purple” tier, stay-home orders are in effect.

Two churches brought the lawsuit which split the court over the question of the government’s authority over churches during the pandemic.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the six-page dissent, signed by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. The dissent said it is up to the health experts to decide how to respond to the pandemic. “Is it that the Court does not believe the science, or does it think even the best science must give way?” she wrote.

“The Court’s decision leaves state policymakers adrift, in California and elsewhere. It is difficult enough in a predictable legal environment to craft COVID policies that keep communities safe. That task becomes harder still when officials must guess which restrictions this Court will choose to strike down,” Kagan wrote.

The more conservative justices said California was infringing on religious freedom and, along with centrist Chief Justice John Robert, voted to set aside the ban but to allow the restrictions on singing and chanting, which some health experts believe pose a bigger risk in crowds.

The court also said the governor could limit attendance to 25% of a building’s capacity.

This is not the first time the court has upheld religious freedom and put limits on governments’ regulatory powers during the pandemic. In November, it ruled that New York’s restrictions on attendance at religious services was unconstitutional.

Former Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and current Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson have ordered bans on indoor gatherings, including church services, but have generally not enforced them.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • “Centrist” John Roberts?

    One of the reason the court is so disrespected and open to packing is Roberts playing politics instead of ruling by the law.

    A lot like our own supreme court

  • It’s californication. They usually get it wrong and the US Supreme Court has to give them a spanking. They never learn.

  • It still amazes me how the virus knows churches and parishioners from other buildings and people. Very smart. Maybe these people should riot, burn, and loot. Seattle and Portland have had this behavior for almost a year and not 1 infection. Amazing. Now, our entire southern border is open with no testing required (or ID or anything else). No worries of the pandemic. Hmm… something seems amiss here but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

  • Berkowitz got his church, where’s Ethan now
    Under a rock somewhere

  • From the opinion of Justice Gorsuch:

    “Government actors have been moving the goalposts on pan- demic-related sacrifices for months, adopting new bench- marks that always seem to put restoration of liberty just around the corner. As this crisis enters its second year— and hovers over a second Lent, a second Passover, and a second Ramadan—it is too late for the State to defend ex- treme measures with claims of temporary exigency, if it ever could.”

    Governments need to drop the falsehood that lockdowns and other restrictions are only “temporary.”. These measures restrict liberty. Period. Let the lawsuits continue.

  • See! The Churches that moved services online during March had nothing to fear. God will had covered them and their pastors for doing the righteous choice continuing in-person fellowship. Only for Newbies, these past examples is an encouragement why we can Trust God when we act righteously and keep the Faith, He will cover us with his protection.
    The Churches had nothing to worry. Their worry set us further back cause we lost territory.

  • Now, if only the Supreme court would reject California, period.

  • Many people have quietly discovered, courtesy of the pandemic closures, that they rather enjoy being freed from the weekly tyranny of their churches, and they will never go back.

    Just watch as they begin to reopen, and attendance never rebounds.

    • Wow, I did not realize that churches were forcing people to attend their services at gunpoint!
      .
      You may want to dial down your absurd and irrational rhetoric, while looking up the definition of the word “tyranny”. But thank you for providing proof that anything you write here can safely be dismissed as the ravings and rantings of a lunatic.

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