Supreme Court blocks California from enforcing COVID restrictions against churches

California has imposed some of the country’s most onerous coronavirus-related lockdown rules, and the state has hit houses of worship particularly hard.

Those regulations are being challenged by a group of churches, however, and they just won a victory at the nation’s highest court.

On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction preventing California from enforcing its restrictions that banned indoor church services while the case is being litigated, Fox News reported.

That decision reverses an earlier ruling from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which declined the plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief.

Court’s decision

“The Ninth Circuit’s failure to grant relief was erroneous,” read a statement from the Supreme Court. “This outcome is clearly dictated by this Court’s decision in South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom.”

The court’s ruling broke down along ideological lines, with all six justices appointed by Republicans voting in favor of the injunction and its three Democrat-appointed justices dissenting.

Fox News noted that in the previous case of South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote a strongly worded dissent arguing that the Supreme Court should defer to health experts.

“Justices of this court are not scientists,” Kagan pointed out. “Nor,” the Obama appointee added, “do we know much about public health policy.”

“Yet today the court displaces the judgments of experts about how to respond to a raging pandemic. The court orders California to weaken its restrictions on public gatherings by making a special exception for worship services,” she continued.

Florida’s death rate

The necessity of COVID control measures is a hotly debated issue, with some critics using state-level data to question their effectiveness.

For example, Florida, which has no state-wide mask mandate, has opened its schools, and does not restrict church attendance, has a significantly lower COVID death toll than either New York or New Jersey, according to numbers published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Furthermore, Florida’s death rate is only moderately higher than California’s, even though the U.S. Census Bureau reports that California has a much younger population in comparison to Florida, which has the country’s oldest population.

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