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Assessing US Supreme Court Rulings on Pandemic Restrictions

What the high court’s COVID-19 decisions reveal regarding how government treats churches, businesses, and other organizations.

Assessing US Supreme Court Rulings on Pandemic Restrictions
Image: Geoff Livingston | Getty

The novel COVID-19 virus presented numerous medical, social, and political challenges as it spread across the United States in 2020.

It also posed many legal questions. As state and health officials sought to slow the virus, many mandated temporary lockdowns and prohibited people from assembling in public places, including those who desired to gather for worship, prayer, and fellowship at church events and services. Some churches complied. Others resisted. Legal challenges brought by churches quickly emerged.

Those challenges reached conflicting results in various federal courts around the country, setting the stage for the US Supreme Court to eventually weigh in. In May of 2020, a deeply divided Court said California’s restrictions remained constitutionally permissible for at least the time being. In Chief Justice John Roberts’s concurring opinion with the decision, he cautioned ...

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Posted:
  • April 23, 2021

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