Harmeet Dhillon, the lawyer representing plaintiffs suing California over an in-person ban at religious services, told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” Thursday that—despite the recent court setback—the fight is a worthy cause because freedom of religion is an essential right for Americans.
Dhillon, a Republican official, was referencing the recent ruling by Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal, who refused a temporary restraining order request on the state’s stay-at-home restrictions.
Bernal, according to the Los Angeles Times, said the executive powers employed are “empowered to provide for emergency remedies which may infringe on fundamental constitutional rights.”
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He said that the pandemic risk justifies some of these strict orders that could infringe on religious freedom.
The suit was filed earlier this month by three pastors and a parishioner claiming that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders infringed on their 1st Amendment rights, the paper reported.
The paper reported that attorneys for the state said in Wednesday’s telephone hearing that the order is in place to protect the overall public health from a deadly pandemic.
“Any harm the plaintiff suffers is significantly outweighed by the harm to the public health that this disease provides, that harm being a significant risk of severe sickness and death on a massive scale,” Todd Grabarsky, the deputy attorney said, according to the paper.
Dhillon said she understands the risks, but asked why these services are not allowed, but businesses that are considered “essential” like supermarkets can remain open as long as they practice social distancing.
She noted that there was a recent “partial” victory in California, which now allows drive-in services.
“The situation here, to be very frank, is that conservatives and liberals in this country have really rolled over and let the government do whatever they want,” she said.
She pointed to the recent arrest in Idaho, and how much of the state’s leadership, including the governor’s office, are Republicans. She said she was willing to ride out these stay-at-home orders, but now it is becoming apparent that the virtual shutdown will be longer than expected.
She said that despite projections showing a decrease in infections, the crackdown on liberty has increased. She pointed out that religious services for the elderly population are an important part of their social lives and condemning them to be at home is a “form of imprisonment.”
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” said the coronavirus threat is real, but it is high time for a measured reopening.
“What I’m finding, with some exceptions, but what I’m finding is that it’s the Democratic states—led by Democrat governors—who, number one, don’t see religion as essential, but number two, see the state as the nanny, having to take care of everybody.”