WASHINGTON (AP/CBS13) — The Supreme Court is telling California it can’t enforce a ban on indoor church services because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The high court issued orders late Friday in two cases where churches had sued over coronavirus-related restrictions in the state. The high court said that for now, California can’t ban indoor worship in areas where virus cases are surging, but it can cap indoor services at 25% of a building’s capacity.
The justices also declined to stop the state from barring singing and chanting at services.
“California forbids any kind of indoor worship. Meanwhile, the State allows most retail operations to proceed indoors with 25% occupancy, and other businesses to operate at 50% occupancy or more,” Justice Neil Gorsuch said, and later added, “California is the only state in the country that has gone so far as to ban all indoor religious services.”
The court’s three liberal justices dissented.
The court’s action follows a decision in a case from New York late last year in which the justices split 5-4 in barring the state from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues. Shortly after, the justices told a federal court to reexamine a similar lawsuit over California’s restrictions in light of the ruling.
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