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Supreme Court Sides With Challenge to California's COVID-19 Religious Service Curbs

Supreme Court Sides With Challenge to California's COVID-19 Religious Service Curbs

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a blow to California Governor Gavin Newsom's pandemic-related ban on indoor religious services, siding with a church that defied the policy and challenged it as unconstitutional religious discrimination.

The decision followed a similar action by the justices on Nov. 25 that backed Christian and Jewish houses of worship that challenged New York state restrictions in coronavirus hot spots.

The justices, with no noted dissents, set aside a lower court ruling that rejected a challenge to Newsom's policy by Harvest Rock Church Inc, which has several campuses in the state, and Harvest International Ministries Inc, an association of churches. Both are based in Pasadena, a city in Los Angeles County.

The justices directed the lower court to reconsider the case in light of their ruling in the New York case.

California's pandemic-related restrictions have evolved throughout the year. Newsom, a Democrat, initially ordered houses of worship to be closed completely in March as part of a broad stay-at-home directive. Some restrictions were lifted in the spring, but new curbs were introduced in July after a surge in cases, which was when Harvest Rock Church first sued.

The state's current plan imposed county-specific limits based on ...

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