US Supreme Court strikes down another covid-restriction on public worship

The U.S. Supreme Court has again ruled in favour of a Pentecostal church that was suing California over its covid-related worship restrictions, this time lifting a congregational ban on singing.

In an order Monday, the high court overturned a lower court ruling that had denied South Bay United Pentecostal Church injunctive relief from the pandemic restrictions on in-person worship instituted by Gov. Gavin Newsom—rules which have since been rescinded.

Earlier this month, California’s Department of Public Health changed the language on official capacity limits for worship services from “mandatory” to “strongly recommended.”

Last Friday, the Newsom administration lifted all restrictions on singing and chanting in church in anticipation of this ruling.

Thomas More Society Special Counsel Paul Jonna, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP, called the high court order the “final nail in the coffin” burying the Governor Newsom’s unconstitutional chokehold on California churches.

The April 26 order was the latest in a series of triumphs that the San Diego Church has been handed by the United States Supreme Court. On February 5, 2021, the court struck down California’s indoor worship ban. Following that decision and the ruling in Tandon v. Newsom (which forbid the state from enforcing COVID–19 restrictions on small group Bible studies and prayer meetings), on April 12, 2021, California announced that it abandoned all capacity limits on churches. On April 23, 2021, Newsom’s administration announced a lifting of all restrictions on congregational singing and chanting in church.