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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Friday night that California cannot ban in-home religious services while allowing other similar activities in the secular world, once again ruling in favor of religious liberty in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 5-4 ruling was led by the court’s most conservative justices, including newest member Amy Coney Barrett, while Chief Justice John Robert’s once again joined the liberal bloc as he has during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts and indoor restaurants,” the majority opinion stated.

The decision overruled the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld the ban. The majority rebuked the lower court for ignoring its earlier guidance in rulings siding with religious liberty over pandemic restrictions.

“This is the fifth time the court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise,” they wrote.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissent, saying the majority was wrong to compare in-home prayer meetings with other secular activities.

The state does not need to “treat at-home religious gatherings the same as hardware stores and hair salons,” she argued.

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california

Unconstitutional: CA Gov. Newsom’s order barring in-person private school classes, says 9th Circuit

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Friday that California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 restriction barring private schools from in-person classes is unconstitutional.

The Center for American Liberty and 20 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in July 2020 challenging Newsom’s closing of all in-person classes for schools. “Several of those plaintiffs said Newsom overstepped his authority and acted illegally by denying parents control over their children’s education,” the Epoch Times reported.

“California’s forced closure of their private schools implicates a right that has long been considered fundamental under the applicable caselaw—the right of parents to control their children’s education and to choose their children’s educational forum,” Judge Daniel Collins ruled on Friday.

However, the court upheld barring public school in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harmeet Dhillon, the head of the Center for American Liberty, said in a statement, “While we are thrilled for our clients whose rights are vindicated by today’s decision, we are disappointed the Ninth Circuit did not rule that all students, including those in public school, have a basic right to an education. We will continue to advocate for the educational rights of all students.”

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times on Friday, Newsom’s office said, “Throughout this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, the state was guided by science and data—prioritizing the health and safety of students, staff, and their families while supporting schools to meet the needs of students and return to in-person learning quickly. All students are returning to full, in-person instruction next year, and the state is focused on ensuring that return is successful.”

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Court & Law

Mississippi attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe V. Wade

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Mississippi’s Attorney General urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to overturn Roe V. Wade when the court comes together in the next term.

“This Court should overrule Roe and Casey,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a brief, according to The Hill. “Roe and Casey are egregiously wrong. They have proven hopelessly unworkable. … And nothing but a full break from those cases can stem the harms they have caused.”

Finch was referencing a 1992 decision of a case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld the landmark Roe V. Wade case.

The attorney general made the plea to the Supreme Court as it is set to debate an abortion restriction legislation that essentially bans all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that Mississippi passed in 2018.

“Under the Constitution, may a state prohibit elective abortions before viability? Yes. Why? Because nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion,” Fitch added, arguing that the case should be overturned.

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Federal court unanimously rules the CDC’s eviction moratorium is unlawful

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The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its authority and engaged in federal overreach by issuing an eviction moratorium during the pandemic.

The Cincinnati-based federal court agreed with a lower court ruling, which had called the moratorium on evictions unlawful, according to The Epoch Times.

“It is not our job as judges to make legislative rules that favor one side or another,” Circuit Judge John Bush, who President Donald Trump appointed, said in the court’s opinion. “But nor should it be the job of bureaucrats embedded in the executive branch. While landlords and tenants likely disagree on much, there is one thing both deserve: for their problems to be resolved by their elected representatives.”

The CDC originally made the order in September 2020 to ban evictions for tenants that lost money due to the pandemic and was eventually upheld by Congress. The policy is set to expire on July 31.

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