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