California Pentecostal Church Appeals to Supreme Court After Losing Lawsuit Against Ban on Worship Gatherings in Appeals Court

South Bay United Pentecostal Church in San Diego, California | Google Maps

After a federal appeals court rejected a California church’s request for a temporary restraining order against the state’s ban on worship gatherings, the church is now taking its case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

South Bay United Pentecostal Church in San Diego, which draws 200-300 congregants, petitioned the nation’s highest court on Sunday to intervene as it seeks to hold in-person services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“California’s four stage Reopening Plan permits manufacturing, warehousing, retail, offices, seated dining at restaurants, and schools to reopen, but bans places of worship from holding church services. On its face, this plan is a blatant violation of the Free Exercise Clause of our First Amendment,” Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Society, argued.

The petition comes days after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on in-person worship services.

The judges wrote, “We’re dealing here with a highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there presently is no known cure. In the words of Justice Robert Jackson, if a ‘[c]ourt does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.’”

California is currently in stage two of its reopening plan, where retailers, including clothing stores, bookstores and warehouses, are allowed to operate with curbside pickup. Restaurants in certain counties have also reopened.

Meanwhile, churches, along with movie theaters and hair salons, have been categorized as a “higher risk workplace” and have been placed in phase three of the reopening plan. Newsom is expected to announce new reopening guidelines for churches and other religious places on Monday.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Sheryl Lynn