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The Supreme Court granted Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) emergency relief to five churches challenging Santa Clara County’s public health orders which ban indoor church services.
Santa Clara County was the only place in the nation which set places of worship at a 0% capacity for indoor church services.
Last week the churches first sought an emergency stay in the Ninth Circuit, but that request was denied by the three-judge panel hearing motions. Lawyers for the churches filed an application for an emergency writ of injunction with Justice Elena Kagan who is assigned to the West Coast for emergency motions.
Justice Kagan ordered the County to file a response and then referred the matter to the entire Court which sat in conference today. In a 6-3 decision, the high court granted the relief.
“We are pleased that churches in this county will be unlocked this Sunday after being closed for indoor services for the better part of a year,” said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute.
The churches are Gateway City Church, The Home Church, The Spectrum Church, Orchard Community Church, and Trinity Bible Church which are represented by PJI in a joint effort with the Cannistraci Law Firm and McAllister Law Group.
After the Supreme Court’s order, Santa Clara County said indoor worship services immediately would be permitted at 20% capacity but other indoor gatherings would remain prohibited for now.
“The Supreme Court order was issued without any analysis at all of the county’s gathering rules, which have always been neutral and applied equally to all gatherings across-the-board,” county counsel James Williams, told the Wall Street Journal. “Indoor gatherings of all kinds remain very risky, and we continue to urge all religious institutions to carefully follow the public-health recommendations to avoid spread of Covid-19 among their congregations and the broader community.”
BREAKING: SCOTUS orders California’s Santa Clara County to allow churches to hold indoor services. Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissent. Here’s the short shadow docket order. https://t.co/pLGpSaReY6 pic.twitter.com/fsSgtmewNl— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) February 27, 2021