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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.
BREAKING: Jussie Smollett Granted Release From Jail During Appeal For Hate Crime Hoax Conviction
On Monday, Jussie Smollett’s lawyers demanded the actor be released from prison after he and his family received “vicious threats” that supposedly raised concern for Smollett’s safety while in jail. This request was granted on Wednesday, allowing Smollett to be released from jail on bond while his lawyers appeal his conviction for staging a hate crime and lying to the police about it.
Back in December, Smollett, 39, was found guilty on five felony counts of disorderly conduct. Last week, the disgraced actor was sentenced to 150 days in jail, restitution to the city of Chicago of $120,106, and a $25,000 fine.
During his sentencing, Smollett claimed that he was not suicidal and that if he dies while in jail, it will be the result of foul play. He also maintained his innocence during his sentencing despite the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence against him.
“Your honor, I respect you, and I respect your decision,” said Smollett,” but I did not do this, and I am not suicidal. If anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself, and you must all know that.”
Only days after being sent to the Cook County Jail, Smollett was placed in the psych ward, which prison officials claimed is standard policy for high profile criminals.
Smollett’s attorneys had insisted that he could be in danger of physical harm if he remained imprisoned at Cook County Jail, claiming their client was the target of “vicious threats”.
“Mr. Smollett has become the target of vicious threats in the social media forums which no doubt reflects the hatred and wish for physical harm towards Smollett which he may experience during incarceration,” the lawyers’ filing said.
Smollett’s brother has reportedly been “bombarded” with threatening phone calls, and the rest of the family has also received threats.
“Mr. Smollett anticipates he will most likely be assigned to segregated incarceration or protective custody, both euphemisms for solitary confinement; a situation which could have extraordinary damage on his mental health,” continued the filing. “As a result, any custodial setting poses a safety and health danger to the life of Mr. Smollett.”
Apparently, damage to a prisoner’s mental health is of the utmost importance in prison now. Jail, of course, is known to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Regardless, since he was convicted of ‘non-violent” offenses, the court is allowing Smollett to be released from Cook County Jail on a $150,000 recognizance bond, which only has to be paid if he misses a court date.
VIDEO: Kim Potter Only sentenced to 16 months in prison for 1st Degree Manslaughter
Extreme Leniency: Kim Potter was just sentenced to 24 months (2 years) in prison with credit for 8 months time served, meaning her sentence is 16 months.
Judge Regina Chu said that this was the case of a “cop who made a tragic mistake. She drew her firearm thinking it was a Taser and ended up killing a young man.”
The court approved a downward departure from the typical sentence, as Chu said Potter never intended to use her firearm and the scene painted as chaotic. (guy sitting in car)
By Minnesota law, Potter was sentenced only on the higher charge of first-degree manslaughter. The maximum charge is 15 years, but for someone with no criminal history like Potter, guidelines range from between six and eight-and-a-half years.
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