California Governor Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional lockout orders have been repeatedly overturned by the Supreme Court. It did it once again late Friday night, taking the number to five.
The nation’s highest court was petitioned in Ritesh Tandon, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, et al., over a case concerning the state’s effort to restrict “home-based religious worship, including Bible studies and prayer meetings.”
The petitioners were represented by The Center for American Liberty, a law firm that protects citizens’ civil rights. SCOTUS dismissed the lawsuit without a trial and ruled in favor of the petitioners.
The Per Curiam opinion said, “First, government regulations are not neutral and generally applicable, and thus cause strict scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause if they favor any comparable secular practice over religious exercise.”
“Second,” it continued, “whether two actions are equivalent for purposes of the Free Exercise Clause must be judged against the claimed government interest that supports the legislation at issue.”
“Third, the government bears the responsibility of proving that the challenged law passes strict scrutiny,” it went on to say.
“Fourth, even though the government withdraws or modifies a COVID regulation during the course of litigation, it does not mean that the restriction is no longer in effect.
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The court said, “This is the fifth time the Court has summarily dismissed the Ninth Circuit’s review of California’s COVID religious exercise limits.” Prior cases cited included Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom, South Bay, Gish v. Newsom, and Gateway City.
The Supreme Court opinion continued, “It is unsurprising that such litigants are entitled to relief.”
The courts have consistently struck down California Governor Gavin Newsom’s illegal lockout orders.
In November, a judge in California ruled unequivocally that Newsom had overstepped his authority by issuing executive orders regarding the 2020 election (the California legislature eventually made several aspects of these decrees legal).
Judge Sarah Heckman of Sutter County Superior Court granted an injunction prohibiting the governor from taking executive action that “changes current statutory law or creates new statutory law or legislative policy.” Judge Heckman essentially reminded Newsom of the fundamental responsibilities of a sitting governor.
The governor’s emergency powers provided by the legislature under the Emergency Services Act do not include the authority to make laws. It has the power to “suspend those laws, but not to modify or establish new ones,” according to Judge Heckman.