U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS vacates judge's ruling that allowed restrictions on religious services in California

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday vacated a decision that allowed restrictions on religious services in California and told a trial judge to reconsider the case.

The court’s Dec. 3 order told U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal of the Central District of California to reconsider his decision in light of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling last week blocking attendance caps on religious services in New York.

The New York Times, the Washington Post and SCOTUSblog have coverage.

In May, the Supreme Court had allowed California to impose restrictions on religious services in a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the majority. Since then, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and was replaced with Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Roberts dissented last week when the Supreme Court ruled against New York’s religious restrictions.

The Harvest Rock Church and the Harvest International Ministry had challenged California’s restrictions in the new case, arguing that they were more onerous than restrictions on businesses such as shopping malls, laundromats and food packing operations. The church said 99% of California residents live in zones where no indoor religious services are allowed, according to the Washington Post.

In its brief, the church included a photo of California Gov. Gavin Newsom eating with friends at a restaurant, even as he had urged others to avoid family visits.

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