The US Supreme Court turned aside a California church’s request to lift a lockdown measure that limited church attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees.
Lawyers for the church argued that the order violates the First Amendment’s religious exercise clause and discriminates against places of worship because “no comparable let alone equal limitations” are imposed on secular activities such as manufacturing, retail merchandising, or marijuana or liquor dispensaries.
In a three-page opinion, Chief Justice Roberts disagreed, saying that similar or more severe measures have been applied to comparable secular gatherings where people are in close proximity for an extended period of time, such as lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances.
He said the state’s order only treats more leniently to activities that aren’t comparable, “such as operating grocery stores, banks, and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods.”
Roberts said that once broad limits are not exceeded, it isn’t the role of the federal judiciary to be second-guessing officials who appear to be acting in good faith while making decisions about public health.