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Supreme Court orders CA to lift limits on in-home religious gatherings

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The Supreme Court decided late on Friday to lift orders by Gov. Gavin Newsom preventing in-home religious gatherings, overturning a decision made by the Ninth Circuit.

This makes the fifth time the Supreme Court has rejected the Ninth Circuit’s decisions on California’s COVID-19 restrictions, as reported by Fox News.

The decision said there must be proof that religious activities lead to more of a spread of the virus than secular activities such as grocery shopping or visiting an entertainment venue.

“Otherwise, precautions that suffice for other activities suffice for religious exercise too,” the majority opinion said.

The state of California “treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts and indoor dining at restaurants to bring together more than three households at a time,” the decision said.

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The opinion added that orders cannot “assume the worst when people go to worship but assume the best when people go to work.”

The highest court has heard numerous similar cases on religious gatherings and COVID-19.

A federal judge had previously ruled against Newsom’s order, which the Ninth Circuit held up.

“The state reasonably concluded that when people gather in social settings, their interactions are likely to be longer than they would be in a commercial setting,”  the Ninth Circuit said, “that participants in a social gathering are more likely to be involved in prolonged conversations; that private houses are typically smaller and less ventilated than commercial establishments; and that social distancing and mask-wearing are less likely in private settings and enforcement is more difficult.”

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Is the FBI ‘purging’ agents with Conservative views?

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On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan formally requested that the Justice Department’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, open an investigation into the FBI’s alleged use of political litmus tests to sideline or remove agents and employees with conservative viewpoints. This request also included a direct warning to FBI Director Christopher Wray about these practices.

Jordan’s action follows a report by Just the News detailing how an FBI security clearance review involved inquiries about an employee’s political beliefs. Specifically, the review asked whether the employee had expressed support for former President Donald Trump, attended a Second Amendment rally, or voiced skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines.

In a letter to Director Wray, Jordan expressed wrote, “The FBI appears to be purging itself of employees who do not share its preferred political views.” He emphasized the troubling nature of these practices, especially when they impinge on fundamental liberties and constitutional rights.

Speaking on the “John Solomon Reports” podcast, Jordan highlighted the severity of the situation: “Particularly when they’re asking about fundamental liberties, your constitutional rights, I mean, that is that is frightening stuff.” He further noted the retaliatory actions taken against whistleblowers who bring such issues to light, adding, “You put all that together, and you talk about politics driving what happens there.”

Jordan’s inquiry into the political weaponization of law enforcement has been ongoing, with a particular focus on the FBI’s conduct. In his communication with Inspector General Horowitz, Jordan underscored that the targeting of an employee’s political beliefs and First Amendment activities was deeply concerning and seemingly unrelated to legitimate security risk assessments. “These actions only serve to further erode the dwindling public trust in the FBI and reinforce the Committee and Select Subcommittee’s concerns about political bias within the FBI,” he wrote.

Jordan also referenced evidence uncovered by Judicial Watch, which suggested political retaliation against FBI whistleblowers aiding Congress. He pointed out that an FBI official allegedly disclosed nonpublic information about these whistleblowers to a Democrat member of the Select Subcommittee, ostensibly to discredit their testimonies about FBI misconduct. “It appears from the documents that the FBI sought to selectively disclose this nonpublic information so that it would be used to impugn the credibility of the whistleblowers,” Jordan stated.

In his separate letter to Wray, Jordan questioned the relevance of political viewpoints to security clearance determinations. He argued that while assessing the legality of employees’ actions is legitimate, questions about political beliefs are “completely irrelevant to any legitimate security risk determination” and infringe upon First Amendment rights.

Following the release of internal FBI memos showing that bureau officials had inquired about an employee’s support for Trump, stance on COVID-19 vaccines, and participation in a Second Amendment rally, concerns about political bias have intensified. These memos indicated that the employee’s security clearance was revoked months after confirming his conservative views and vaccine skepticism.

Tristan Leavitt, the lawyer representing the affected FBI employee, commended the congressional oversight, stating, “It’s good to see Congress holding the FBI’s feet to the fire.” He emphasized the need for a thorough investigation into how these questions were used to justify purging conservative employees from the FBI.

 Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton echoed this sentiment on the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show, predicting that the FBI would attempt to deflect criticism despite clear evidence of misconduct. “I’m sure we’ll get some distraction and noise from Chris Wray and a reaffirmation that the FBI never does anything wrong, even when it’s caught red-handed,” Fitton remarked.

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