Supreme Court Again Allows Indoor Church Services, Lifts Ban
The U.S. Supreme Court said a California county must let five churches hold indoor services, adding to a line of orders that have curbed the power of government officials as they battle the spread of the coronavirus.
The latest high court action follows a Feb. 6 order that let indoor worship services resume in most of California at 25% capacity.
The court’s unsigned one-paragraph order said the outcome “is clearly dictated” by the earlier decision. The three liberal justices -- Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor -- dissented.
Santa Clara County, which includes San Jose, said its ban remained valid because it was part of a broader prohibition on indoor gatherings at both religious and secular establishments. The county’s policy let facilities operate at 20% capacity for purposes other than gatherings.
Five suing churches said the county can’t constitutionally let churches operate at 20% capacity but then bar those people from worshiping together.
The Supreme Court acted even though the county said in a Feb. 25 letter that it was planning to ease the restrictions next week as long as Covid rates there continue to decline.
The case is Gateway City Church v. Newsom, 20A138.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.