The U.S. Supreme Court has order Governor Gavin Newsom to respond to an emergency writ on behalf of churches in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.
The Center for American Liberty in conjunction with the Dhillon Law Group filed the emergency application for a writ of injunction on Thursday in the case Gish vs. Newsom. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan ordered Newsom to respond to the writ by 5 p.m. Wednesday.
“The emergency application for a writ of injunction comes after federal courts, for weeks, have ignored clear directives from the Supreme Court forbidding the disparate treatment of religious organizations through COVID-19 restrictions,” the Center for American Liberty said in a released statement.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied injunctive relief in the case on December 23.
“California treats houses of worship with a harsher hand than secular businesses. With most of California under the strictest of lockdowns, many businesses are permitted to operate at reduced capacity and some without any limitations at all. Houses of worship, though, must remain closed for in-person services,” the writ states.
The Center for American Liberty noted Christians in New York and other states now worship freely essentially as the result of U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Los Angeles County — even tough it's been hit as hard as any area by COVID-10 — has also essentially reduced restrictions on indoor services based on rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But as far as the state is concerned, the Governor's guidelines virtually don't allow any indoor services. Churches are allowed to meet outdoors. The Center for American Liberty stated churches in other states can meet indoors “so long as they and the churches they attend follow reasonable health guidelines such as sanitization and distancing. In contrast, Christians in California, and particularly the Applicants, are not permitted to follow the dictates of their conscience and worship together in person with their fellow Christians. Allowing California to continue discriminating on the basis of religion will cause an inequality nationwide, where the First Amendment applies in some states and Circuit Court jurisdictions, but not in others, such as the Ninth Circuit or the State of California.”
It is an outrage to see Governor Newsom unapologetically continue to discriminate against houses of worship in California.” said Harmeet K. Dhillon, CEO of the Center for American Liberty. "If Californians can go to Costco, marijuana dispensaries, and malls, the State may not keep them out of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, gurdwaras, and other houses of worship. The First Amendment does not permit houses of worship to be treated as second class institutions.”
“This relentless discrimination against people of faith must end.”
In the Gish vs. Newsom case, those at churches in San Bernardino County and Riverside County filed a a lawsuit on April 13 to hold indoor services. The following day they filed for a preliminary injunction seeking immediate relief. The plaintiffs stated they desired to participate in religious gatherings that employ social distancing and sanitization guidelines.
The plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction was denied by a district court. The case is now on a appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.