The Supreme Court late Friday lifted some restrictions California had put in place on religious services in connection with the coronavirus pandemic while leaving others in place.
The justices ruled, by 6-3, the state cannot ban indoor worship, but it is able to cap services at 25% capacity, reports The Hill. However, the courts did not stop the state from enforcing its ban on indoor singing or chanting.
The rulings came in two cases brought by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista and Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena after the state moved to ban indoor worship services, along with other indoor activities like dining and movie theaters, in its “Tier 1” areas, which encompass most of the state.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote federal courts owe “significant deference to politically accountable officials regarding public health restrictions.” However, he said such deference “has its restrictions.”
He further said the state’s rulings the “maximum number of adherents who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero” does not reflect “expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake.”
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