The decision signals the priorities of the court’s new conservative super-majority to protect religious rights, also at the expense of public health.
“When Hollywood hosts a studio audience or films a singing contest while not a single soul enters the churches, synagogues and mosques of California, something has gone seriously wrong,” wrote Judge Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee.
He joined the five other Conservatives at court. They argued that the state selected religious institutions for stricter rules, while other types of institutions remained open with limited capacity.
“This dish certainly doesn’t downplay the suffering many have experienced in this pandemic,” added Gorsuch.
The court ruled that 25 percent capacity religious facilities could be reopened for indoor worship, but did not explain how that solution came about for the case that came before the tribunal due to an accelerated emergency call with limited information.
Judge Elena Kagan, who wrote dissenting on behalf of the remaining liberal wing of the court and found the judgment hypocritical because the Supreme Court itself does business remotely, warned that lawyers should not question health professionals with “chair epidemiology”. ”
“The judges of this court are not scientists,” she wrote. “If this decision causes suffering, we will not pay. Our marble halls are now closed to the public, and our lifetime isolates us forever from responsibility for our mistakes. That seems like a good reason not to disrupt a state’s pandemic response. “
Before the death of the progressive judiciary, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court had sided with public health experts and, in some cases, allowed religious restrictions.
South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, and the nationwide Harvest International Ministry were the California churches that challenged the rules.