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What the Supreme Court’s COVID-19 Opinion Means for Church Gatherings

A deeply divided Court rejected one California church’s request to restore in-person services sooner than the state governor ordered.

Last Reviewed: April 26, 2021
What the Supreme Court’s COVID-19 Opinion Means for Church Gatherings
Image: Richard Sharrocks | Getty Images

Update: Since this ruling, the Supreme Court has made a number of other decisions that began to reshape religious liberty challenges brought against pandemic-related restrictions. For Richard Hammar’s review of all of these decisions, see “The Sacred and the Secular: Assessing US Supreme Court Rulings on Pandemic Restrictions.”

On May 29, 2020, the US Supreme Court delivered an opinion of the case South Bay United Pentecostal Church et al. v. Newsom. The following article explores the background leading up to the opinion, an analysis of the opinion, and what it might mean for churches nationwide.

Background

On March 4, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency as a result of the threat posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus). Two weeks later, on March 19, 2020, the governor issued Executive Order N-33-20, which required “all individuals living in ...

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Posted:
  • June 1, 2020
  • Last Reviewed: April 26, 2021

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