The US supreme court has rejected a challenge by a church groups to block California’s lockdown laws, which limit attendance at religious worship to 25% of building capacity or 100 people.
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In the California dispute, the nine justices split 5-4 in rejecting a bid by South Bay United Pentecostal church in Chula Vista to block the rules issued by governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. Conservative chief justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberal justices in the majority.
Newsom ordered houses of worship closed to the public in March, but issued guidelines this week limiting attendance to 25% of building capacity or 100 people, whichever was lower.
“The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement,” Roberts wrote.
There were no noted dissents as the court rejected a similar request by two churches in Illinois, seeking exemption from Democratic governor JB Pritzker’s ban on services of more than 10 people, arguing that it infringed on the constitutionally protected free exercise of religion.
In a brief statement, the court said the state public health department had removed those limits on Thursday.