The unsigned order for a majority of the High Court also revealed a deep ideological fissure, showing the conservatives (including former President Donald Trump’s three appointees under control) and generous dissent generously.
Chief Justice John Roberts was also dissatisfied, although he did not sign the statements of the three judges on the left, written by Justice Elena Kagan.
Kagan wrote, “California ordered decrees of restrictions on its domestic ceremonies, the majority nevertheless insists on treating cases contrary to, and not identical,” “
“And the majority) at once orders California to ignore the scientific findings of its experts, thus impeding the state’s effort to address a public health emergency.”
The order, issued before midnight on Friday, affects restrictions on the gathering of people from more than three homes in California and some Bible studies and prayer meetings held in one home.
“Some comparable secular activities in California are considered more favorable than domestic religious practice,” the Supreme Court ordered, allowing hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts Dena, and indoor restaurants to bring more than three homes together at once. “
The court said that a lower US appellate court had “unfairly rejected” that comparison based on a high-court ruling involving public buildings as opposed to private buildings. The majority acknowledged that California officials were making changes to the policy on April 15 to challenge, but officials with a track record of moving such “goalposts” retained the right to reinstate those lofty restrictions at any time . “
Citing the lower appellate court that allowed California’s domestic ban, the majority stated, “This is the fifth time the (Supreme) Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious practice.” . “
The majority were justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanuagh and Barrett.
The court order noted that Roberts had declined the challengers’ request for intervention by the High Court.
In his dissent, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, Kagan wrote, “The First Amendment required that a state treat religious conduct as well as that of the state with comparable secular conduct. Sometimes the true secular Detecting analogs may raise difficult questions. But no. Today. California limits religious ceremonies to three homes. If state homes limit all secular ceremonies to three homes, it has complied with the First Amendment. Homes of all kinds, religious and secular alike. “
Kagan noted that lower court judges found that when people gather in social settings, their interactions are likely to be longer than in the commercial setting and involve longer conversations. Private homes are likely to be less ventilated, he said, wearing less masks.
Kagan concluded, “Because the majority continues to disregard the law and the facts, I respectfully dissent …”
In the case before the justices, Santa Clara County pastors Jeremy Wong and Karen Bush said the restrictions violated their First Amendment free-exercise rights by prohibiting their normal weekly Bible study and prayer sessions with eight to 12 individuals.
In his request for emergency intervention, he said that they “sincerely combine for the small-group, ‘House Church’ fellowship is as indispensable to their faith as attending a Mass is to a Catholic. Still a year.” For longer than that, California is completely prohibited. Or largely banned those ‘gatherings’ and many others. “
“On the contrary,” his request to the court stated, “the state allows for countless other activities to be carried out without numerical boundaries, from weddings and funerals to secular cultural events and political rallies. It serves more than three homes.” Also allows people to stay in. Buses, trains, universities, airports, barber shops, government offices, film studios, tattoo parlors, salons, and other commercial venues. “
But California state officials, as they urged not to attend the judgments, had the limit relating to members of more than three households “completely neutral to religion” and applied to congregations for any purpose, secular or religious. it occurs.
“In any event,” attorney for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom told the High Court, “The state recently announced that the challenged policy would be substantially revised on April 15 … in view of the improvement in rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, as well The increasing number of vaccinated individuals, states will largely relax their restrictions on many domestic ceremonies. “
The case is Tandon v. Newsome.