The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed a ruling that would allow five California churches in Santa Clara County to continue their religious services amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The churches were initially prevented from holding the services and the church members were cautioned by law enforcement officials that they would receive a fine if they were to violate a health directive prohibiting indoor gatherings.
“In a one-paragraph, unsigned order, the court cited an earlier decision in which it excluded religious services from statewide regulations banning most indoor gatherings,” Axios reports. “The late Friday action is the latest in a string of orders directing state and local governments to whittle down public-health orders intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”
According to the report, the highest court in the country supported the idea of allowing people to freely worship—unperturbed by the government—even during a health crisis but the three liberal judges on the dissented in that opinion.
Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor agreed with Santa Clara County who argued the restrictions were not specifically targetting churches or religious institutions and were included in a broader ban of gatherings at both religious and secular facilities.
These facilities included “political events, weddings, funerals, worship services, movie showings, cardroom operations.”
“Other indoor operations, such as shopping malls, were allowed at 20% capacity,” Axios adds.
As Bloomberg reports, the Supreme Court decision comes as the county announced they would be lifting the ban this week as they are continuing to witness a decline in coronavirus cases.
The case can be viewed by clicking here: Gateway City Church v. Newsom, 20A138.